No need for sticker shock

Anti-gun signage resonates with Anabaptist values

Nov 19, 2018 by and

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Weapons have no place in churches, whether they are carried by someone concerned with harm or with self-defense. Followers of the God of peace are right to indicate this in a visible way.

It is true that a sticker on the door isn’t going to stop a crazy person. An armed attacker fueled by hate won’t be dissuaded by a red line crossing out a picture of a tiny pistol.

While logical by the world’s standards, those are poor reasons to compromise a house of worship’s values — whether Anabaptist or Baptist, Jewish or Muslim. Followers of Christ and other people of faith have a common commitment to peace. Gathering in worship should embody such a core philosophy.

By using such signage, the worshiping body is not indicating what — or who — is not allowed. It identifies faith in the Lord.

The shooting that killed 11 people and wounded six Oct. 27 at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh set the usual debate into motion.

Within hours, the victims were blamed: “If there was an armed guard inside the temple, they would have been able to stop him,” said President Trump, adding that the gunman deserves the death penalty and the incident is not cause for examining current gun laws.

There were articles and anecdotes about pastors who preach while armed, and parishioners who come to church carrying a 9-millimeter “sword of the Spirit.”

It is curious so many Christians find it easier to put faith in a hypothetical human hero instead of the Almighty.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus did not say, “Blessed are the meek, unless it makes them a soft target.” Christ called his followers — a people of uncompromising peace in the face of violence and danger — to let their light shine before others (Matt. 5:1-14).

This means vulnerability in worship, not retribution. In 2017 in the U.S., there were 1.2 civilian-owned guns per man, woman and child, and the shootings roll on. America doesn’t need more guns. It needs more sanctuary.

Christ’s consistent message of love and nonviolence is confirmed in his ultimate victory over death and throughout the Gospels, maybe most directly in Matt. 26:52, when he tells Peter to put the sword away during his arrest. If swords were inappropriate in the Garden of Gethsemane, guns have no place in houses of worship. Like it or not, worship is vulnerable.

The kingdom of God does not fight fire with fire. Doing God’s will on earth, as it is in heaven, begins in our sanctuaries. Fear draws us closer to guns. Love draws us closer to God.


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