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.
Council of the diocese debated and passed a resolution that states:
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
In our worship
spaces, we all hope that trust and safety and love prevail, and this resolution
keeps us on that path.