America has long had a love affair with guns. We love our Westerns, where everyone has a gun strapped around his waist (women might carry one, but generally they concealed a small gun in a hand bag). Clint Eastwood's The Pale Rider features a a gun slinging preacher -- though when he must kill to protect his friends, he trades his collar for a gun.
The Second Amendment does protect gun ownership -- though the meaning of "a well regulated militia" has long been debated. The NRA, which sees itself as the protector of every one's right to bear arms seems to think that any regulation is too much regulation -- so they even oppose bans on assault rifles. Now, I don't know about you, but unless you're intending to kill people, assault rifles have little use.
So, I must admit that I do find it a bit odd that a church would celebrate gun ownership during a worship service. I'm not sure why the pastor decided to do this -- though maybe he thought this would be a great evangelistic effort. Bring a friend and a gun Sunday -- what a thought.
According to the article in the Guardian (a British paper)
Ken Pagano, who packs a pistol of his own, wants his parishioners to openly wear their firearms at the New Bethel Church in Louisville to mark the 4 July Independence anniversary and celebrate the part guns played in the making of the nation.
The unusual service has brought a mixed reaction, welcomed by many gun owners but widely derided elsewhere with fellow pastors and victims of gun crime questioning whether it is appropriate to carry weapons in a church.
I guess I'm part of that group of pastors that finds this rather inappropriate. I wonder how it fits with Jesus' message to love your neighbor, to turn the other cheek, and be a peacemaker. Is America's love affair with the gun something we should celebrate or not?
As for my church, as a pastor, we'll refrain from such events!