*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Bishop of Missouri condemns new Bill that would allow carrying of concealed guns in churches

14 May 2021

ALAMY

A sign prohibiting the carrying of firearms in Chicago, Illinois

A sign prohibiting the carrying of firearms in Chicago, Illinois

RELIGIOUS leaders in Missouri, in the United States, have denounced a Bill that would allow people to carry concealed guns into places of worship without seeking permission. The Bill has passed easily through the state’s Republican-led House of Representatives, but still needs to be considered by its Senate.

The Bishop of Missouri, the Rt Revd Deon Johnson, a member of the group Bishops against Gun Violence, joined Christian, Jewish, and humanist groups in denouncing the Bill, which, they said, would take away the freedom of religious leaders to decide whether to allow weapons in their church, synagogue, or mosque.

“The current legislation not only harms places of worship but communities as a whole with the proliferation of firearms. Places of worship should not be places where firearms can or should be allowed,” Bishop Johnson said this week. “As followers of Jesus, we are called to be peacemakers, and the solution to a gun problem is not adding more guns, but practising and promoting avenues towards peace.

“Currently, schools and places of worship are exempt from being places where firearms can be carried, particularly concealed firearms. This new proposal would end that exemption and remove from religious leaders the freedom to determine what is in the best interest of the worshipping community when it comes to firearms. In essence, this disregards the First Amendment right to freely express religion against the Second Amendment right to carry fire arms.”

If the Bill became law, religious leaders who did not want guns on their premises would have to post signs warning people not to carry them.

The executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St Louis, Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, said that the Jewish community “know what it is to see people attacked during worship services”.

She mentioned the massacre in 2018 at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, in which 11 congregants were killed in what was the deadliest attack on Jews in US history (News, 2 November 2018). “We don’t think that worshippers with guns is going to be the answer to that.”

An attempt by Democrats to remove the amendment on concealed carry, as it is known, in churches failed in a Senate committee hearing, and the Bill will now go before the whole Senate.

The Republican-led Senate is likely to pass the legislation, but Bishop Johnson said that, if it was passed, religious leaders would file litigation against it.

Other states have passed laws to allow concealed carry in churches. In Indiana, however, after protests from religious leaders, the state Senate this year refused to hear a measure that would have eliminated permits for carrying firearms.

Another part of the Bill before Missouri’s Senate would allow 18-year-old civilians to gain concealed-carry permits, which currently are available only to people at least 19 years old, or to 18-year-olds in the military.

Clerical

Priest in Charge (Rector Designate)

London and Home Counties

Our suburban parish on the border between the London Borough of Croydon and the lovely Surrey countryside and with a spacious modern Rectory, is seeking a Priest-in-Charge (Rector Designate) to lead our church as we seek to fulfil our mission to proclaim Jesus, change lives and serve our community.   We are looking for a leader who, with energy and dynamism, who will develop the vision for the church to enable the children and families work to be a priority in order to grow the church both in numbers and spiritual maturity. In addition, the new person will care and tend for the existing ageing congregation many of whom have ¬faithfully served the church for many years.   The person we are looking for should have: strong communication skills, the ability to engage and encourage people across the age ranges and to convey the church’s mission, vision and priorities; a commitment to preach the Word of God in thoughtful and stimulating ways; an energy and dynamism probably more extrovert than introvert; a pastoral heart, showing empathy and good listening skills, the ability, willingness and experience to help us to develop and enjoy a variety of worship styles, including a wider range of musical worship and a deeper corporate prayer life -whilst recognising and valuing our heritage;   For further information and to apply, please click the 'apply for this job' button below.   For an informal conversation with the Archdeacon of Croydon, please contact the Archdeacon’s PA Kathleen.bailey@southwark.anglican.org to arrange a time for a phone conversation.   Closing Date: Sunday 12 June 2022 Parish Visit for shortlisted candidates: Monday 11 July 2022 Interviews: Monday 11 July 2022   Please note we have a policy in Southwark Diocese that to be appointed to an incumbent status post, a priest must have served a title in an Anglican church in the British Isles.   This post is subject to DBS enhanced disclosure

Forthcoming Events

2 July 2022
Bringing Down the Mighty: Church, Theology and Structural Injustice
With Anthony Reddie, Azariah France-Williams, Mariama Ifode-Blease, Luke Larner, Will Moore, Stewart Rapley and Victoria Turner.

4-8 July 2022
HeartEdge Mission Summer School
From HeartEdge and St Augustine’s College of Theology.

More events

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)