It’s Time to Stop ‘Leaving Your Sword’ outside Church
Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:52am

It’s Time to Stop ‘Leaving Your Sword’ outside Church

Force can stop force. Defensive arms are not unclean or disrespectful.

Last week it was Sutherland Springs, Texas; in September, Antioch, Tenn.; two years ago, Charleston, S.C. — all suffered high-profile shootings in churches. The high death toll in Texas especially, where gun ownership and concealed carry is widespread, highlights a serious problem.

Churches are frequent targets of gunmen, but churchgoers are uncomfortable carrying arms into places of worship. In September, church usher Caleb Engle made headlines for stopping a shooter in a church, but he had to use his bare hands, since he’d left his gun in the car. From 2006 to 2016, 147 shootings have taken place in churches. It’s time we take the advice of Texas attorney general Ken Paxton and ditch the idea that we should disarm for church.

People have a generalized discomfort about carrying weapons on holy ground. It is unclear where exactly that originated, but history is rife with examples of people just feeling uncomfortable being armed in church, as if it would be disrespectful to God and fellow worshipers. Many European churches still have “sword stands” outside the place of worship, from the days when a swordsman would disarm only to sleep and attend church.

The taboo against carrying weapons into church extends to America in our own day. Nine states and the District of Columbia have laws restricting the carrying of weapons in church, and Louisiana outright forbids it. Such laws only serve to make churches even more attractive targets to mass shooters.

Churches have always been targets of opportunity. Accordingly, early colonial regulations mandated the carrying of arms to church. “To prevent or withstand such sudden assaults as may be made . . . upon the Sabboth or lecture dayes, It is Ordered, that one person in every several howse wherein is any souldear or souldears, shall bring a musket, pystoll or some peece, with powder and shott to e[a]ch meeting.” Then, as now, it was recognized that the church, in its capacity as a place of peace and vulnerability, made it a prime target for attack. The response then, as it should be now, was to take appropriate precautions to protect parishioners.

Times are very different now from what they were in the early colonial era. We don’t need to carry a heavy musket or sword into church. That would certainly be disruptive to people expecting a peaceful environment. But we should be glad that modern manufacturing brings us tiny, effective firearms that can be carried concealed. The time has come for us to confront the fact that churches continue to be popular targets of violence. Churchgoers should unashamedly carry their arms into the pew. Defensive arms are not unclean or disrespectful. They only give the parishioner and his friends some fighting chance against a Dylann Roof or a Devin Kelley.

Unreasoned backlash from the political Left notwithstanding, nothing about carrying a concealed weapon is contrary to a church environment. Do not let ideologues keep you from protecting yourself and your friends. Wherever you legally can, keep your weapon, keep it politely, and know that it is only a means of last resort. Force can stop force. If more people carried their weapons to church, fewer people might be killed in shootings. Churchgoers should think about their security from attack, and if they have no gun, perhaps they ought sell their cloak and buy one.

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It is telling, I think, that most Christian gun enthusiasts believe that guns are inherently wicked.

Perhaps it is so because of: Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

I'm thinking that it borders on scrupulosity:

John Moore (shown c. 1691–1703) was the first to describe the disorder, calling it "religious melancholy"

Scrupulosity is a modern-day psychological problem that echoes a traditional use of the term scruples in a religious context, e.g. by Roman Catholics, to mean obsessive concern with one's own sins and compulsive performance of religious devotion.[6] This use of the term dates to the 12th century.[7] Several historical and religious figures suffered from doubts of sin, and expressed their pains. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, wrote "After I have trodden upon a cross formed by two straws ... there comes to me from without a thought that I have sinned ... this is probably a scruple and temptation suggested by the enemy."[8] Alphonsus Liguori, the Redemptorists' founder, wrote of it as "groundless fear of sinning that arises from 'erroneous ideas'".[7] Although the condition was lifelong for Loyola and Liguori,[9][10] Thérèse of Lisieux stated that she recovered from her condition after 18 months, writing "One would have to pass through this martyrdom to understand it well, and for me to express what I experienced for a year and a half would be impossible."[11] Martin Luther also suffered from obsessive doubts; in his mind, his omitting the word enim ("for") during the Eucharist was as horrible as laziness, divorce, or murdering one's parent.[12]

Although historical religious figures such as Loyola, Luther and John Bunyan are commonly cited as examples of scrupulosity in modern self-help books, some of these retrospective diagnoses may be deeply ahistorical: these figures' obsession with salvation may have been excessive by modern standards, but that does not mean that it was pathological.[13]

Scrupulosity's first known public description as a disorder was in 1691, by John Moore, who called it "religious melancholy" and said it made people "fear, that what they do, is so defective and unfit to be presented unto God, that he will not accept it".[5] Loyola, Liguori, the French confessor R.P. Duguet, and other religious authorities and figures attempted to develop solutions and coping mechanisms;[1] the monthly newsletter Scrupulous Anonymous, published by the followers of Liguori, has been used as an adjunct to therapy.[14] In the 19th century, Christian spiritual advisors in the U.S. and Britain became worried that scrupulosity was not only a sin in itself, but also led to sin, by attacking the virtues of faith, hope, and charity. Studies in the mid-20th century reported that scrupulosity was a major problem among American Catholics, with up to 25 per cent of high school students affected; commentators at the time asserted that this was an increase over previous levels.[15]

Starting in the 20th century, individuals with scrupulosity in the U.S. and Britain increasingly began looking to psychiatrists, rather than to religious advisors, for help with the condition.[15]

    • I wouldn't want every parishioner...Truthteller, Thu Nov 16 12:44pm
      to be armed, but every church SHOULD have a sentry posted at at least the main exit. In Paganism, we often perform public rituals in parks and other public places. Generally, a group appoints one or... more
      • Kind of self-selecting....Sprout, Fri Nov 24 3:50pm
        Given any group of people, some people will have no interest whatsoever in being armed... Probably best that they not be armed as they lack the motivation to do it right. There will also be those who ... more
      • The steeple could serve as a handy guard tower.PH🔫🔫EY, Fri Nov 24 11:15am
        A hollowed out bible could accommodate a small pistol.
        • A pretty lousy guard tower....Sprout, Fri Nov 24 3:52pm
          A guard tower needs to be BETWEEN the thing being guarded and the thing guarded against... The steeple usually puts the thing being guarded between it and the thing guarded against... Not so good.