It’s Bring-Your-Gun-to-Church Day!

Maybe you’ve seen this: one of my students passed along this article about an Assemblies of God church in Louisville that is sponsoring a bring-your-firearms-to-church event (not a worship service… or is it?). An excerpt follows:

[Rev. Ken] Pagano [the pastor] is a former Marine and currently a volunteer chaplain for the Louisville Metro Police Department (where he does not carry a weapon). Taking a break from a shift at the indoor gun range where he works one day a week, Pagano tells TIME that he’s an avid sport shooter and a proponent of responsible gun ownership. Despite criticism for co-mingling guns and religion, he stands by his view 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.”

(“Pacifism” is not really the issue here, Rev. Pagano.)


Some locals opposed to Pagano have planned an alternative rally, “Bring Your Peaceful Heart … Leave Your Gun at Home,” which is scheduled to coincide with the New Bethel [Rev. Pagano's church] event.

6 Responses to “It’s Bring-Your-Gun-to-Church Day!”

  1. Libby says:

    Sheesh, really scary–the pictures on “gun culture” from the Time article are, too.

  2. MJG says:


  3. T says:

    I sincerely think loving non-violence is optional in the same way financial giving is optional. God obviously expects us to be merciful and generous to those that need help. But God arguably would rather us keep our money than give it out of a sense of obligation or compulsion (begrudgingly). Does he think differently when he asks us to give our blood? Jesus went out of his way to say that he was going into the cross freely, laying down his life of his own choosing. (Amazing.) I think that’s ‘the mind’ he wants us to have, but even Peter didn’t have it yet after 3 years, though Jesus continued to call him down that road. If we give our bodies to the flames without love, we gain nothing. Love must be the goal.

  4. MJG says:


    There are at least two issues here, I think. My statement to Rev. Pagano that this is not about pacifism was meant to suggest that the big-picture issue here is what the church of Jesus Christ should be doing with its time, and promoting gun-possession and gun-use do not seem to be among them. (Try to find either of them in the NT!)

    But about “loving nonviolence” and “financial giving” being optional–this sounds like a divorce between justification and sanctification that is unknown to the NT and thus dangerously close to cheap (bogus) discipleship. If we turn to Paul, he reasons that if God gave us Christ in love, we should give our possessions in love (2 Cor 8-9) and if God lovingly reconciled us through Christ when we were enemies, we too should love our enemies (Rom 5 and 12-13). That is, these are constituitive elements–not optional supplements–of life in Christ. To be sure, none of these aspects of Christian existence matter without love, but thta does not mean that they are optional. Instead, they are the fruits of love, of inhabiting and being inhabited by the God of cruciform love.

  5. T says:


    You’re right. My intent (which I didn’t communicate very well) was not to affirm this pastor’s ‘optional’ claim as much as to say that loving our enemies is “as optional” as mercy or generousity is in the NT, which is to say it is not, even if we’re still failing in it after years of following Jesus. The call to mercy keeps calling. I should have put more emphasis there to be clear. I’d love to get your feedback on some related thoughts on non-violence that I posted at my blog.

  6. MJG says:


    Your second post here definitely clarifies your first, and now I can see what you were intending. (So much for exegesis as discerning [successfully, at least] authorial intention, :-) .) I’ll have a look at your blog.

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