Leadership in Faith

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is so named because we originally started as a coalition of national religious organizations working to prevent gun violence. The Coalition eventually grew to include all of the major Protestant, Catholic and Jewish organizations in the country. Over the years, we have added a wider range of civic and public safety organizations to the Coalition.

A few years ago, one member of our Board of Directors, who is a Presbyterian minister, wondered why there seemed to be a dichotomy between the actions of the national church groups and their local constituencies. He did a survey of local pastors. To no one’s surprise, the survey revealed that although almost all the pastors agreed with the national denomination’s positions on gun violence, they were loath to raise the subject at the local level because it “might anger” a few local members or raise hostility from local pro-gun groups.

I was recently heartened to learn of the action of the delegates to the 2008 session of the North Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. They adopted a resolution which states, in part:

“Whereas bringing concealed weapons into the church sends a message that is at odds with what the church wants to communicate and violates the religious character of religious property, and;

Whereas the work of the church does not involve or require weapons;

Now be it resolved that the delegates to the 2008 session of the North Georgia Annual Conference oppose any attempts by the state legislature to allow anyone other than law enforcement officers to carry concealed weapons in houses of worship;

And be it further resolved that we invite members of other churches and faiths in Georgia to join us in this effort.”

Our thanks go out to the members of the North Georgia Annual Conference of the UMC who have chosen to take a public moral stance on this vital issue even though it may not be a popular position with every single parishioner in the local church pews.

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