Bring Your Gun to Church Day

June 9, 2009 by

Pastor Ken Pagano of New Bethel Church in Louisville, Ky., is encouraging members to bring their handguns to church for an “Open Carry Celebration” Sunday. The event will include patriotic songs, a raffle to give away a free handgun (sounds familiar), viewing gun safety videos, checking guns at the door to make sure they’re not loaded and extra security.

“As a Christian pastor I believe that without a deep-seeded belief in God and firearms that this country would not be here,” Pagano told ABCNews.com. “I’m not ashamed of that fact. I’m proud of it.”

Hmm. Good idea or bad idea?

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Joshua Cody


Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
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27 Responses to “Bring Your Gun to Church Day”

  • Rick Wilson
    June 9, 2009

    This is faith and politics meeting together for all the wrong reasons. A terrible idea – sending the wrong message at exactly the wrong time.
    When there is so much uncertainty and fear in the country, when elements of groups calling themselves Christians gun down an abortion doctor, when hate groups are arming themselves, recruiting at unprecedented levels – this pastor’s response is “Open Carry Celebration Sunday?”
    Is his faith really tied to “God and firearms?” WOW! That’s an interesting theological position.
    What do you think the response would be if a black church did that? The police would shut that down in a New York minute.
    I am not anti-gun. I believe in the right to bear arms, the 2nd amendment, responsible gun ownership. But this is a case of complete ignorance of the history and experience of people of color in this country. A really bad idea!


  • Nathan Williams
    June 9, 2009

    Did I maybe read a different set of beatitudes somewhere? I’d swear it said something about “peacemakers.”
    More to the point, how is this substantively different from putting the pastor in a box? Or locking him in a gun vault?


  • Jason
    June 9, 2009

    I know that they have called some firearms “peacemakers” but this is stretching it a bit!
    I want to find this funny, but I just can’t. This is wrong on so many levels.


  • Michael Schutz
    June 9, 2009

    Bad idea, and worse yet, bad theology. The statement from the pastor that without God and guns we wouldn’t be here may be true, but that doesn’t mean God celebrates guns (or by implication, that He sanctioned any actions that brought us here). How does this have any place in a Christian church, especially when gathering for worship?
    As a Christian pastor, it’s just as important to know and apply the doctrine of the two kingdoms as it is to know how we got here as a nation.


  • Geoff in CT
    June 9, 2009

    This is so far out that it comes off sounding like a sting operation!


  • iHateChurch
    June 9, 2009

    good idea or bad idea…. really? I am all for discussion but this sounds like the real estate im selling on a planet called mars…. ANYONE WANT SOME?


  • adam mclane
    June 9, 2009

    Bad idea. Actually, a few weeks after a man was murdered at a church with a gun… a horrible idea.
    Please tell me this pastor has elders or leaders who will pull him aside and pull the plug on this one.


  • Mike
    June 9, 2009

    Believe it or not, I think he has a point Theologically. Christ himself advocated carrying a small sword to protect yourself.
    Note that he did NOT advocate militias or an organized military resistance to authorities.
    And nothing about stockpiling of weapons. “It is enough” he said to have a couple swords.
    So no, the stereotypical “praise God and pass the ammo” doesn’t apply. But neither does the “Jesus is a pacifist and would NEVER talk about handguns” angle.


  • adam mclane
    June 9, 2009

    @mike- you don’t need to bring your gun to church to talk about defending yourself.


  • mike
    June 9, 2009

    Adam: I didn’t say it was a good idea. Just said that the Theology was not what most people think.
    Then again, in many communities handgun safety would be a good thing. Guns aren’t the primetime political issue in many places…just something you have.
    Not sure I’d call it a “celebration” though.


  • Shawn
    June 9, 2009

    Is getting everyone to bring a gun to a church picnic really the best way to promote gun safety?
    I think it’s a terrible idea! I’m sure that there is a good motive behind it, but I think they should rethink things.


  • Chris
    June 9, 2009

    As someone who is both a communications pastor and a state certified concealed handgun permit instructor, I feel 100% qualified to say that this guy has some jacked up priorities and sloppy theology. ANY event or publicity you do for your church should be for the sake of the gospel. Where is the gospel in this?


  • Jody Earley
    June 10, 2009

    BAD idea on so many levels. Preach the Gospel, reach the lost, equip the saints, help the oppressed, and feed the hungry. Please for the sake of those lost and hurting get your priorities in order and be the church.


  • Kyle
    June 11, 2009

    to a certain community (the conservative Right, pseudo-agrarian, southern community) gun ownership is equivalent to personal sovereignty.

    “Bring your gun to church” day would be not much different TO THEM than ‘wear your Team gear to church day” … it’s a cultural value.

    As Christians, I would like to hope you have enough grace for and trust in fellow believers for these various differences.

    Do I own a gun? No. Will I ever? No. Do I think this is a little weird? Yes. But I think the “inherent conflict” is cultural, not biblical.

    Don’t let the internet turn into a schoolyard, with bullies and gossips and second guessers…


  • Phil
    June 12, 2009

    Ugh, no…
    Though maybe he’s going to suggest that everyone goes home without their guns and they are melted down in the name of safety.
    Will be interested to hear what happens.


  • Forest
    June 12, 2009

    Gun’s to church just for a “Guns to Church Day” No. Guns to church because it is becoming exponentially more unacceptable to be a Christian every day and the likely hood of a psycho in the crowd is very real? Absolutely yes. There is no negotiation with evil. If I can protect myself or someone else in a dramatic, dynamic situation…..
    adam mclane said mike doesn’t need to bring a gun to church to talk about defending himself, but I believe there will be days soon when bringing a gun to church TO defend himself, may not be a bad idea at all.


  • Mel
    June 13, 2009

    I hate to break to some of you, but if you don’t have a gun in your house, you are being about as wise as a sheep. There is danger in this world that you have a responsibility to protect your family from. Even if I read “turn the other cheek” to include “allow a psychopathic criminal to torture me for days before slowly killing me,” there is no way Jesus would say I shouldn’t defend my family.
    As for the church service: We should also never have “Bring Your Pet to Church” or “Ride Your Harley to Church” or “Bring Your iPod to Church” and so on. An irrational fear of guns does not make anyone who has one, or likes them, or carries one crazy. Besides, it wasn’t even one of their regular services. So what, no more Superbowl parties either?
    Most people probably don’t notice, but as fewer people own guns, they become more and more slave to their government. Don’t be a sheep or a hoplophobe.


  • Rabo
    June 15, 2009

    Bad idea, and bad grammar. The phrase is “deep seated,” not “deep-seeded.” I’d expect a presumably college-educated pastor to know that, unless it was a transcription error on the part of the reporter.


  • Adam
    June 17, 2009

    Belief in God and firearms, huh? Glad he could mention those both side-by-side, as if they were equal players…as if God and firearms split the deal 50/50.
    Bad idea.


  • UptownHippie
    June 22, 2009

    Really? We have to ask if this is a good idea?
    “Thou shalt not kill.”
    Do we really need to say any more?


  • Rosemary
    July 1, 2009

    I’m a gun-owner who thinks this is a bad idea, for all the reasons already mentioned.
    What I would love is for everyone to show up with their unloaded symbolic guns, and then for them to preach on Isaiah 2 (the “swords into plowshares” passage).
    They could then encourage a discussion about what does it mean that in this day we see the importance of weapons whereas ultimately the Lord’s call is for weapons to be cast aside.


  • KC
    July 9, 2009

    Most people get the image of guns from hollywood movies, think that if everyone got a gun, they will just start shooting each other on the street.
    But if you actually go to a small town that has gun shops and is legal to own guns, it doesn’t happen. Hey, if you are a criminal, are you going to a town when everyone has a gun?
    I wonder, even when there are tons of stabbing murder by knife, we won’t afraid of using knife. But when there is a shot to death murder, we right away afraid of guns?
    It is also helpful in case the government goes bad and want to take away your liberty and property.
    Gun control is not about gun, it is about control. Only dictators want gun control, this way no one can fight back. Gun owners don’t want trouble, they just want to protect their life and properties.


  • Sean Pearce
    July 10, 2009

    To those that say bringing guns to church is a bad idea, I say learn your American History! Back in the pioneer days people had to protect themselves. You say well that was when things were lawless on the old frontier. Well don’t you think things are a bit lawless today (to wit the attacks on Christians while at church!)?
    We need to show people that we are armed and responsible. I mean, people have been run down by cars intentionally and people drive drunk everyday yet we Christians are stilling driving our cars without guilt. Many Christians don’t drink alcohol to set an example for others who have problems with it. Yet Jesus’ first miracle was changing water to wine, at the END of the Wedding when people had already been drinking!
    The saying that freedom is not free came about for a reason. We need to show the world that we are ready and if it takes a show of potential force then so be it…


  • James Allen
    July 14, 2009

    WHAT??? Please tell me that you guys are punking us.


  • CP
    July 20, 2009

    @UptownHippie: “Thou shalt not kill.”
    Well, actually no, scripture does not say that. The commandment is “Thou shalt not murder.” There is an increadibly significant difference between the two statements.
    Personally, I do not think a church service is the correct place to bring guns, however I have absolutely no problem (and would gladly attend) a church sponsored event of the same kind. I fail to understand the need to separate the idea of faith and personal liberty. The church should not preach politics from the pulpit (hence the reason that I think a service is the wrong context) but why should the body of believers not gather to celebrate common values?


  • Michael
    October 8, 2009

    Blessed are the 9mms. Speaking from Australia, makes me glad I don’t attend church in the US.


  • European
    October 9, 2009

    This sounds like something from outer-space to me.
    Culture+religion+politics=



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