Citing an overflow of crime into the suburbs, a Catholic priest in Ann Arbor, Mich. is urging parishioners to start packing heat and has begun holding concealed pistol license classes at his church, Christ the King.
Rev. Edward Fride wrote an open letter to his flock after he received pushback from some parishioners after he recently announced at Mass that the church would be holding firearms training classes, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Some churchgoers worried that the lesson was not in line with the Bible or with the teachings of Jesus Christ. The Bishop of Lansing, which oversees the Ann Arbor parish, has also criticized Fride’s stance.
Fride, who has worked in the parish for two decades, wrote in his letter that despite his past pacifist leanings — he was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War — he imagined a series of “what would I do if” scenarios and “eventually concluded that I was certainly no longer a pacifist absolutist. ”
“There were situations in which I would actively intervene, even to a lethal level if necessary,” wrote Fride, asserting that he would act with force if he came across a woman being beaten or sexually abused or if he saw a child being attacked.
He also argued that the Bible and Catholic doctrine does not rule out using force to defend oneself.
“The ‘what would Jesus do’ is often used as a defense for pacifism,” Fride wrote, “but when you read what Jesus actually does, as Revelation describes as He leads His army to destroy those attacking Israel, to say it does not go well for the bad guys would be something of an understatement.”
Fride wrote that it is urgent that parishioners consider obtaining a gun and concealed pistol license in the face of increased crime. He cited recommendations from police in Michigan to help make his case.
“In more recent years two regrettable factors have taken place,” Fride wrote. “First, the amount of crime has substantially grown; second, due to budget cuts, there has been a significant reduction in the availability of an armed police response.”
Fride noted that the chief of police in Detroit, James Craig, has recently publicly encouraged citizens to take up arms to protect themselves against crime.
“This has actually been good for Detroit, and ironically bad for us, or for those who live in the suburbs,” Fride wrote.
He also referenced a police officer from a Detroit suburb who provided training at Christ the King’s recent concealed carry class.
The police officer “pointed out that because more Detroiters are protecting themselves, more of the criminals are now targeting the suburbs, because most of the suburbs consider themselves distant or immune from the threat,” Fride wrote.
Despite Fride’s enthusiasm, his gun plan was condemned by Earl Boyea, the Bishop of Lansing.
Boyea “has never given permission for anyone to carry a concealed weapon in a church or school in the Diocese of Lansing,” a statement from the Diocese reads, according to the Free Press.
“Additionally, Bishop Boyea further states that Concealed Pistol License classes are inappropriate activities to be held on Church property,” the statement continued.