Why don’t more churches call for gun control?

Some guy at Huffington Post that I’ve never heard of asks the question why more religious groups don’t call for gun control, especially in light of the recent church shootings in Knoxville and Colorado.

And of course, Paul Helmke is on hand to lie and twist the facts about the recent (and past church shootings, all to help bolster their failing cause.

What’s kind of odd is that the HuffPo guy asks the question, but doesn’t actually provide an answer.  I mean he sort of says that liberal churches don’t touch the gun issue because it’s surefire way to lose, and that conservative churches don’t touch it because it would distract from pro-life efforts (really? – ed) but he doesn’t actually think about the issue and why churches don’t usually touch the gun issue.  He does note the “God not Guns Coalition”, the Brady Campaign “faith-based” anti gun group to which I’ve given a sound trouncing in the past; but that’s all he’s got.

It never occurs to our little HuffPoer that maybe, just maybe the reason that most faith based organizations don’t actively support gun control is that a majority of their parishioners don’t want them to?  Take a look at my church again, which is actually pretty representative of a lot of modern churches.  We have liberals, conservatives, old people, young people, you name it.  But if I was reading the announcements section one day and it said “East 91st Street church plans to sponsor a gun buyback to get guns off the streets and needs volunteers” it’s a sure bet that I would be burning the phone lines down with calls – and I wouldn’t be the only one.

That’s the root cause, actually, so maybe the HuffPo guy was right.  Gun control is a losing issue – especially in areas (like churches) that heavily rely on community involvement to be successful in their endeavors.

Ultimately, I’ll refer you back to last night’s podcast – as long as people, churchgoers and non-attendees alike still believe in self defense, it’s going to be a pretty tough row to hoe to get mainstream Protestant denominations involved in gun control.  And by “tough” I mean “damn near impossible”.


  1. As a Pastor, I can only comment on my own church — a pinch of salt should be sufficient. Historically, American churches have been staunch defenders of individual liberty. The reasons should be obvious: the American church tradition descends from (escaped) the European tradition of religious oppression.

    You need only browse a European history book to understand the connection to guns. The first step before forced conversion (or death) was to disarm the minority church members. This was couched as a public safety issue — we must protect the public from the subversive Protestant (or Papist) rebels.

    Then they cut off their heads.

  2. Or, you know, it could be that most churches try to stay out of politics. The other obvious answer.

  3. When I was touring the historical sites in Nauvoo, IL (where the Mormons were when they got kicked out of the US because of their religious beliefs) while in the Browning Gunsmith Shop the tour guide was showing the various guns that the Brownings had invented over the years. They pointed out the nice Browning designed machine gun (unfortunately I can’t remember if it was the Ma Deuce or an earlier one) one of the other tourists said “If they’d have just invented that a little earlier, we never would have had to leave.” to a rather nice reaction by the other visitors.

    The Mormon church is strongest in Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and Idaho. All rather well known for their support of guns. The church actively promote self-reliance and preparing for emergencies. They really don’t come right out and say to get armed and prepared, but there is a whole lot of implication about such things. The Book of Mormon speaks of the duty to protect one’s self, family, country, and freedoms from attack even to the point of killing if necessary. It tells that we must be prepared to defend ourselves as individuals and as a community and as a nation.

    It’s generally a very pro-gun church. Granted, they don’t want you to be carrying concealed at church (and they give some good reasons regarding leaving the world behind when you come into church), but other than that they have always been very pro-gun.

  4. Or, you know, it could be that most churches try to stay out of politics. The other obvious answer.

    Many national denominations have taken very vocal stands on political issues. I left the Presbyterian Church and won’t consider the Methodists for that very reason.

    What’s funny is that, even when the national church takes a specific stand, many local churches don’t support it. That’s what makes politics so volatile in relation to religion. The Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians and probably all the others have, at one time or another, had segments of their denomination split away from the national leadership over political issues.

    It seems to be a relatively small group of activists who aspire to positions of power that spur these strong political stances…oftentimes to the detriment of their denomination as a whole.

    I won’t get into the nuts and bolts, but I refuse to be a member of a church that publicly takes political stands that I find to be in contravention of my understanding of Christianity. Even if the local church doesn’t support those stands…if a portion of my tithes and offerings go to supporting the national organization that holds those policies, I won’t be a party to it. But many Christians simply don’t know about those policies and stands of the national organizations. That’s why many churches, even if they take an official stand on these issues, don’t act upon them. They don’t want their congregations to vote with their feet (and wallets) by going somewhere else.

  5. Guns and gun control aren’t in the Bible, so why should a Bible believing church take a political stand one way or the other on that? The Presbyterian Church USA is the liberal/social gospel branch, and they do call for gun control (and a lot of other liberal stances). The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) does NOT take a stand on gun control, and remains the more conservative and traditional branch. It’s a shame so many just say “Presbyterians” because the two are VERY different.

    I agree with RobK. The churches that are focused on their first order of business don’t have much time left for the other stuff.

  6. BillH…You are absolutely correct about the PCUSA and PCA…that’s one of the political splits I was talking about, but I should have identified which one was which.

    The Presbyterian Church I was a member of was affiliated with PCUSA. The local church and its members were very conservative and (in my view) true to the core principles of Christianity. When a high ranking member of the national organization came to our Church in an unsuccessful attempt to convince us that openly gay people should be ordained as ministers, it encouraged me to do some more research about PCUSA. I found out not only about many of their political stances with which I disagree theologically, but others which had no bearing on the Church whatsoever and there was no reason for the church to even take a stand one way or another. PCUSA has become a political lobbying group as much as a church denomination.

    I also realized, during the course of my research, that the PCUSA requires each church to pay “dues” based upon their membership numbers. Therefore, even if I didn’t tithe to that church, as long as I was counted as a member, I was supporting PCUSA. I never attended that church again and I transferred my membership to a different denomination as soon as I found one that I supported.

  7. I agree that gun holder that are church members are not really a threat but a protection for example if there was an armed man at the shooting event the shooter would be killed much sooner.
    In fact the shooter acted out of hate for Liberals so they would be glad to have guns for self defense

  8. Pingback: Gun Values Board
  9. I suggest everyone here read Dave Kopel’s “The Catholic Second Amendment.” The right to defense of self and community are central to the right to own the means for said defense, and I think Dave’s assessment that the idea of such natural rights really stems from the Papal revolt in the 11th century is right on.

    In other words, any Christian church that supports gun control does not support the last 1000 years of thought on the matter. In fact, I would say the only reason the first 1000 years could be considered friendly to the idea is because of the Church’s symbiosis with Monarchies and other political powers in the late first millenia AD. There is much support in the Bible for self-defense and ownership of (and skill with) weapons, and really nothing contrary to the idea that is of merit. That’s what kills me about the Roman Catholic Church tolerating bigots like “Snuffy” Phleger in their ranks down in Chicago; his teaching are contrary to the Church’s.

  10. “Guns and gun control aren’t in the Bible, so why should a Bible believing church take a political stand one way or the other on that?”

    Arms control most certainly is in the Bible; using the word “gun” establishes a straw man. Specifically, arms control was a tool of Philistine oppression against Israel. (Read 1 Samuel 13:19-23) This is definitely a topic relevant to Jews and Christians, who historically have been subject to oppression for their religious beliefs.

  11. And to add to what Hypnagogue says, I’ll point out Luke 22:36, where Jesus specifically tells the apostles assembled for the Last Supper “…if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” A more clear cut command, you couldn’t ask for.

  12. Hyp and Rob, I’m aware of both of those, and I’m with you 100%. No straw man at all. I didn’t want to start a scriptural defense of the Biblical basis for self defense here, I was simply trying to point out that there is no call in the Bible for the church to call for the secular government to mandate disarming the citizens, which is what the PCUSA and the Unitarians have done (as well as others). I also think it would be just as wrong to use the Bible to demand that all Christians and Jews oughta carry on Sunday (or Saturday, or any other day) as a point of faith too, but so far I’ve not found that happening in real life.

    Maybe when the cold weather comes, and the hunting season is over, I’ll take some time and write that scriptural discussion of Christians and self defense. I’d post it on my blog though, not in anybody’s comment stream 😉

  13. I’m not sure about the here- err, Protestants, but the Catechism (of the Catholic Church) explicitly states that the just have a right and duty to stand against, and defend themselves and the innocent from evil.

  14. Bill, my point was really not to espouse a doctrine of “everyone be armed”. It was more “you’d be surprised at what’s actually in the Bible.” I guess I wanted to point out that a lot of people presume to speak for Christ and what He wants, yet don’t bother to offer any backing from His own book for their statements. The post Caleb linked to ends by saying that some churches are going to armed security and finishes with “Not what Jesus would do, I think.” The guy offered nothing to back this claim, but I can show from Luke 22 that at least two people at the Last Supper where carrying swords.

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