U.S. pastors extolled the virtues of armed parishioners in the wake of the Sutherland Springs massacre, with some promising to pack heat while preaching.
Several pastors, mostly from Texas, welcomed the use of concealed carry within their congregations, saying that they believe the presence of armed parishioners provides a line of defense that would prevent a repeat of the worst church shooting in U.S. history. Among those pastors, some also said that their churches would develop further security measures to answer potential threats, ranging from security guards to pastors carrying guns on their person while they preach.
El Faro Bible Church
Pastor Jaime Chapa of El Faro Bible Church told KRGV that the Sutherland shooting would not be repeated in his church, as his congregation will be armed.
“What happened in Sutherland will not ever happen in our church,” Chapa said of his Sullivan City church. “There will be three armed persons at all times, at every service. Nobody needs to know who they are, but our church will be protected.”
The armed persons will be members of the church, as the congregation of 50 cannot afford to hire paid security guards. Chapa, who also has a license to carry a handgun, said that he will carry while inside the church, in addition to the anonymous gun-wielding parishioners.
First Baptist Church, Dallas
Pastor Robert Jeffress, an evangelical adviser to President Donald Trump, said in an interview with Fox News that he estimates up to half of the congregation of his megachurch carries concealed guns during service. Jeffress said he saw nothing wrong with the widespread carrying of guns in his congregation during church services, as he believes that would ultimately prevent would-be mass shooters from accomplishing their evil goals.
“I’d say a quarter to a half of our members are concealed carry, they have guns and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. They bring them into the church with them,” Jeffress said.
“I think it does [make you feel safer] and I think, look, if somebody tries that in our church, they might get one shot off or two shots off, and that’s the last thing they’ll ever do in this life,” Jeffress added.
McAllen First Baptist Church
Pastor Shannon Talley of MacAllen First Baptist Church told KRGV that his church is not only formulating increased security measures, but also plans to implement a system through which concealed carrying members can get to know one another. That way, Talley said, armed parishioners can be spread strategically throughout the sanctuary during services to provide defense for the entirety of the church.
“We are putting that into place so our concealed carry people know each other, but we are also setting things up to where their located strategically throughout the auditorium in the services that we have,” Talley said.
St. Alban’s Anglican Church
Council Nedd II of St. Alban’s Parish in Pine Grove Mills, Penn., an Anglican bishop and a state constable, provided a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation saying that he reconsidered his decision not carry his gun inside his church in light of the horror that unfolded in Sutherland Springs.
“When I previously assessed my duties as a law enforcement officer, priest and bishop, I decided not to carry my pistol with me when attending Sunday services. I made this choice at my own person peril because I have recently received credible personal threats and routinely come across people I’ve arrested,” Nedd wrote. “This is also despite the fact that, in my capacity as an officer, I have provided protection at synagogues and churches when there was concern about the safety of their congregants. Until now, I didn’t think it was appropriate for me and my church.”
Nedd said that while he recognized the idea of carrying a gun inside a place of worship could offend the consciences of some, the proven advantage of the presence of a “good guy with a gun” coupled with the responsibility of a pastor to shepherd his church made it clear that he should start carrying within the walls of his church.
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