Praise the Lord and pass the ammo

Congregation in Kentucky invited to bring their weapons to church

The Rev. Ken Pagano, pastor of New Bethel Church, an Assemblies of God congregation in Louisville, Kentucky, hopes to carry on with his long-announced “Open Carry Church Service” on June 27. That’s when he expects Christians who are both pious and the gun-loving to heed his invitation to bring their weapons to church to give thanks for the right to bear arms. Pagano, a former Marine and currently a volunteer chaplain for the Louisville Metro Police Department (where he does not carry a weapon), also works one day a week at an indoor gun range. He believes that Christians are called on to be prepared to defend themselves and their families. “Pacifism is optional for Christians,” says Pagano. “It’s not a requirement.” His main problem right now is that the church’s insurance carrier, after giving an initial go-ahead, has told him it cannot insure the event. Pagano expects to find coverage before the end of the week and says the event won’t be open-carry without it. Without insurance, he explains, “We’d just ask the open-carry folks to leave their guns in their vehicles,” adding that people with concealed carry permits could still bring loaded guns into the sanctuary. Some local churchgoers are mounting an alternative service for the same day, “Bring Your Peaceful Heart … Leave Your Gun at Home.” Terry Taylor, executive director of Interfaith Paths to Peace, which organized that rally, says he is particularly troubled by the open-carry service because it gives the wrong impression of Louisville, which he believes is the “spiritual centre of the United States” because of its mass of interfaith work, connection to the late monk Thomas Merton, and the presence of the Southern Baptist and Presbyterian seminaries and the Presbyterian Church USA’s national headquarters.


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