A Message from Bishop Benfield, May 16, 2013

by anonymous on May 22, 2013

                 A Message from Bishop Benfield

A Common Sense Resolution

The 2013 legislative session of Arkansas’s State Assembly is over, and with it a number of new laws are on the books. One of the more hotly debated laws passed was one that allows for guns to be carried into places of worship.

The Executive Council of the diocese debated and passed a resolution that states:

In response to Arkansas’ Church Protection Act of 2013, in recognition of the “Action to Reduce Gun Violence” resolution of the 141st Annual Convention of the Diocese of Arkansas, the House of Bishops' “Word to the Church: Godly Leadership in the Face of Violence,” and putting our trust in God, the Executive Council of the Diocese of Arkansas and the Bishop of Arkansas state that the policy of the diocese is that guns not be allowed in places of worship of the Episcopal Church in this diocese.

It is what I hope will be seen as a common sense resolution. When a person enters church, he or she expects to be safe from the violence and fear of a gun-oriented culture. The places where we worship should be sanctuaries.

This resolution is not designed to be a general anti-gun resolution; many of our members are gun owners, hunters, or law enforcement agents. The resolution is simply designed to state that guns do not belong in churches.

I would caution against “overthinking” the resolution. For example, does it apply to guns in cars in parking lots or a shotgun kept in a rectory? My advice is to set aside that sort of legalistic interpretation. If you know of someone carrying a gun into church, remind that person that we have a policy that the gun be left outside.

In our worship spaces, we all hope that trust and safety and love prevail, and this resolution keeps us on that path.


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