Armed Worship: Mixing God and Guns

By Jeff Knox

Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self Defense. Charl Van Wyk used a .38 revolver to stop a terrorist attack and save countless lives.
Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self Defense. Charl Van Wyk used a .38 revolver to stop a terrorist attack and save countless lives.

Buckeye, AZ -( Lawful concealed carry and religion intersected in the news recently as Mississippi considered a law to “allow” churches to form church security committees for the protection of the congregation and, with training, for security committee members to carry concealed guns.

Previous Mississippi law prohibited concealed carry in a church. The reaction was swift and shrill, with predictions of blood in the aisles. The experience of other states speaks otherwise. Congratulations to Mississippi for expanding liberty.

Laws banning guns from houses of worship violate the First and Second Amendments to the Constitution. The First Amendment prohibits Congress (and through incorporation via the 14th Amendment, state legislatures) from making any law regarding the establishment or free exercise of religion. The “Establishment Clause,” as it has come to be known, has been liberally interpreted to forbid any sort of favoritism for one religious doctrine over another.

Prohibiting the bearing of arms in houses of worship supports a doctrine of pacifism over doctrines of preparedness and righteous defense of innocent life.

Constitutional issues aside, carrying a gun at church raises important questions, both doctrinal and practical. At the highest level, it’s worth pointing out that very few religions preach total pacifism or passivity in the face of a threat. No matter what denomination or creed, doctrinal questions should be worked out between individuals, church leadership and God. Having the doctrine settled at the outset will help establish boundaries and can help dictate actions in the event of an incident. Having those questions settled beforehand will make for a more effective response.

The practical matters of guns in churches are significant. Many people have a strong visceral reaction to the idea of someone carrying a gun in a house of worship. Carrying a gun also brings with it a responsibility to maintain a heightened level of awareness and preparedness. That level of awareness can easily conflict with the desire to be totally immersed in spiritual communion. This is a personal matter, but it needs consideration. In contrast, a person who is routinely armed may find that being disarmed can also interfere with one’s worship.

Someone who is more comfortable being armed may be uncomfortable and somewhat distracted if forced to go without it, especially in a place with little security and large crowds.

Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self-Defense :
Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self-Defense :

Would you be prepared to defend yourself and other innocents in a surprise attack during worship? Find out what one courageous churchgoer did to protect others in the film and book “Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self-Defense

There is also the issue of interfering with the worship of others. Right or wrong, justified or not, many people are simply uncomfortable around guns. If they become aware that someone in the worship service is armed, it could distract them from their worship. Not being sensitive to these folks’ feelings would be inconsiderate and could be a violation of scriptural guidance. The apostle Paul exhorts Christians to avoid things which might cause a brother to stumble, but of course, that can be a difficult proposition when dealing with people with irrational fears.

In this age of the “War on Terror” and a rash of deranged and suicidal individuals taking out their rage on “soft targets” like churches, schools and shopping malls, the idea of going armed has been steadily gaining ground. It once seemed strange for a church, mosque, or synagogue to even have a security plan, much less armed security guards. It is now unusual for houses of worship not to have a plan, and armed, though usually discreet, security is common.

Anyone attending a worship service in states with a strong “gun culture” can pretty safely assume that there are people in the service who are armed. Some are armed at the behest, or at least with the knowledge and agreement of their elders, pastors, or rabbis. Others keep their arms totally discreet, not divulging their presence to anyone. In states like Arizona, which has a long tradition of open carry of firearms, it is not unheard of for someone to show up for church with a gun visible on his hip. Since Arizona lifted requirements for a license or permit to carry a firearms concealed, the typical response to someone carrying openly would be to ask if he would mind pulling his shirt over the gun so as not to disturb any of the other worshipers, but it would be very unlikely for the person to be turned away.

To some people, especially people in highly restrictive states in the Northeast, this might sound shocking, but to gun-folks in the South, West and Midwest, it’s just everyday life.

We are generally comfortable with firearms and the people who carry them. More importantly, we understand that laws, signs, or polite requests not to bring a gun somewhere, whether it be a house of worship or a convenience store, will deter only people who represent no threat. Without secured entrances, metal detectors and bag-checks, anyone choosing to ignore the law or the sign on the door will simply do so. If they have evil intentions, they know that the law or the sign simply reduces the likelihood that they might meet any armed resistance to their plans.

Most religions recognize the sanctity of life and condone the use of deadly force in defense of the innocent. Churches, synagogues, mosques and temples have been targeted throughout history by cowards seeking easy targets. Such attacks have occurred here in the United States from the days before the Revolution right up to the present, and some of those attacks have been stopped by armed worshipers. Whether it is a Jew with the words “Never Again!” engraved on the slide of a German Luger, a Sikh remembering the attack in Wisconsin, a Muslim worried about being blamed for terrorist acts committed in the name of his religion, or a Christian volunteering to guard the flock from whatever may come, we should all consider ourselves blessed to live in a country where the right to arms is recognized and protected, and where there are people willing and able to stand against evil, even in our sacred places.

About the Firearms Coalition:

The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition is a project of Neal Knox Associates, Manassas, VA.

For more information, visit:

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Witold Pilecki

If you carry always and everywhere as I do, the Gun-Free Death Zone designation is as meaningless as unconstitutional, intolerable acts. Ignore them all and have a chance to survive, especially while in a “soft target” area.


Son of Liberty

A few years ago a good fellow worshiper and I went south to take a defensive handgun course that was extremely informative, and helpful. I have since (via DVD, reading, and range time) continued my training. Both of us, and a couple of others, carry concealed at our place of worship. It is known by staff I also carry concealed at the post-secondary Bible institute in which I teach. As a result this last fall, due to the selective murders of Christians in a secular college in OR, our administration asked a couple of us to develop a security team.… Read more »


In the Wild West everybody had a Gun and peace prevailed, then we became Civilized and disarmed and the Bad Guys had their way, so we Armed up and we became peaceful again, then we disarmed and the ISIS and Drug cartels ruled the streets and murder was more common than War Deaths and the loons blamed the guns for the violence and are once again attempting to not only disarm but confiscate these awful tools of destruction and WHEN the death toll starts to invade their “Watters World” the people will arm up AGAIN and the meme of an… Read more »


Always has been. God,Guns and Guts. This is what won freedom, and made the U.S.A. what it is today. Although some of our idiot law makers are working hard to take those rights away from us.


You know Jesus may have said, “Turn the other cheek” but he surely did not say “Let them behead you.”


He also told his followers to “sell their cloak” if necessary to buy a sword, if needed.

It seems to me that whenever the security of the Priests or parishioners gets threatened, the Church loosens its policies on weapons in church. The same is likely to occur here and now as well.

Wild Bill

Yes, Old, you are correct! See Luke 22:36 and 38. He also says, “…But now he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack…” Sounds like a bug out bag situation: cash, weapon, and bag full of possibles. Be prepared.


Turn the other cheek applies to insults, not self defense issues. It is unwise to risk your life for an insult. I am an ordained minister and have researched the Aramaic and cultural practice of his day to discern this.


Having armed parishioners and developing a Safety and Security Policy for the church are two entirely different things. Fortunately, there are a number of good books on this, and a LOT of issues to deal with. Each church has different memberships, building constraints, and philosophies as to what should be included in the policy (Lost child? Tornado evacuation? Radios and communications? Security for staff in the building during the week? Bomb threats? Background checks for staff and volunteers? Liability issues? Special events other than worship?). It’s a big topic! It’s a shame churches have to deal with this– but they… Read more »

jack burton

There is absolutely no reason for any level of government to be involved in the legal carry of firearms into a church. That is no different than attempting to make the King James Bible the only official bible a church can use.

Jeff in MS

“Previous Mississippi law prohibited concealed carry in a church.”

This is technically not the whole truth. Previous law allowed CCW in a church if one had what is known as the “enhanced” CCW license. The difference between the “regular” or “standard” license and the “enhanced” license is that the enhanced requires that one have some gun training and present evidence of that to the licensing agency.


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall… Read more »

Reginald Hafner

At last common sense prevails, armed citizens lower the crime rate.


I have a retired Army buddy who lives in Mississippi. He and several other men have been carrying concealed in church for at least four years now. They position themselves at various places in the church during the service to make sure no one violently interrupts the worship service without a “vigorous” reception.


This was a very well written article. I have carried a concealed Glock in church for the past three years.I am not only ex military and I have been trained over a lifetime career . I won’t specify my my career but I can tell you that as a Pastor and regular attendee at church I am obliged to conceal my “piece” during church services for two reasons. First of my own safety as not to show a “perp” that I am armed and secondly as not to upset other worshipers during a service. Under a shirt, inside a vest… Read more »

Ronald Parks

I believe and participate in the right to carry in Church. In any given service, I would estimate there are 20-30 concealed handguns out of 200 worshipers (male and female… young and old). My only concerned is that there needs to be some kind of training and co-ordination with that many guns in such a crowded environment. People need to understand what kind of ammo to use to prevent over penetration and need to think in advance about taking shot angles to minimize collateral damage to the congregation. Ideally (IMHO), people should be instructed and drilled to get down if… Read more »


I firmly believe that nearly all who bother to wade through the swamp of government hoops to actually GET our Mother May I Card to carry on our persons will also make it their business to, through any of several available means, endeavour to equip themselves to be as prepared and skilled as possible to respond appropriately to the incident and circumstances where trouble rears his ugly head. Perhaps in a larger congregation, to have a smaller corps of volunteers to work out logistics and tactics together would be a good idea. But so often people tend to think like… Read more »

Wild Bill

Wow, Tionico, that is so cool. I never have heard the term Alarum Guard, before, now. Learn something new every day, well… somedays. I am going to read more on that. I bet the parishioners don’t get too far behind on their tithing with armed church elders!

Akk Shap

I am Chasidic Jew. We stand out by our appearance. Half our men are armed and ready at any time, law or no law, we will not become victims.


Good for you….Bless you


Sir, you have my profound respect… and support.

Ben Willis, Blythewood Defensive Services

God Bless you and yours, my brother. We are all children of the one true God and we all should stand together against the forces of evil.


Shalom brother! Have to worry more about those who say they represent the people than the people themselves..

Robert Thomas

Good for you! May your people never know tyranny again.