Churches Criticized for Using Gun Classes for Outreach

After the recent shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., new criticism abounds toward churches who offer concealed carry certification classes as a outreach method. Religion News Service gives the example of Pryor Creek Community Church, one of a few dozen churches around the country with these classes. Pastor Derek Melton of Pryor Creek is senior pastor and assistant chief of police, and he sees no conflict between weapons training and Christianity.

“The disciples carried weapons,” Melton said. “Peter cut a man’s ear off. I believe if more honest citizens were armed, the safer our communities would be.”

Ryan Bennett, senior pastor of Faith Baptist in North Carolina also offers the concealed carry training classes and says they are an effective outreach program. “Outreach is the only reason we do it,” he said. “We’ve had two classes of 80 people each, and we have a waiting list and calls coming in all the time.”

Criticism is coming from fellow Christians like Richard Cizik of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, who says “what these churches are proposing compromises the essential message of the gospel, that Jesus was first of all a peacemaker.”

“I grew up in gun country,” Cizik said. “I am not intrinsically anti-Second Amendment; however, this seems to be an ethically suspect message. The gospel should be ‘Put your faith in Christ.’ This seems to be ‘Put your faith in Glock.'”

Duane Shank of the Washington-based Sojourners is more concerned about weapons in the church. “A church is a place where we gather for worship and prayer in the name of the Prince of Peace,” he said. “Carrying a weapon, openly or concealed, into a place of worship is counter to that spirit.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Is this an example of an effective outreach program, or have events like the Sandy Hook massacre changed things? Give your thoughts in the Comment section below.

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