On guns in church

“[It] is antithetical to the fundamental message of Christianity.”

The Rev. Philip Blackwell, senior pastor of the First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple, argues that allowing guns in church is antithetical to the fundamental message of Christianity, which is "fear not."

At the very heart of the message of the conceal-and-carry law is what I consider a repudiation of the religious message.

Blackwell is working with Illinois Democratic state Sen. Dan Kotowski to overturn legislation passed into law in July that allows the concealed carry of guns in houses of worship.

"When the [National Rifle Assn.] and others are pushing their legislation, the basic premise is to raise people's level of fear to the point of turning every house into a bunker, every church into a citadel, every school into a penitentiary of some sort," said Blackwell. "At the very heart of the message of the conceal-and-carry law is what I consider a repudiation of the religious message."

Blackwell pointed out that when the guards arrived at the Garden of Gethsemane to take Jesus away the night before his crucifixion, Jesus ordered his disciples to put their swords away.

"They begin to do a fight and he calls his guys off and heals the guy who is wounded and says, 'That's how we play the game,'" Blackwell said. "If you're walking around carrying a gun and think that it is a tribute to the Christian Gospel, then you’ve been reading the wrong book."

Editor's note: These remarks were reported by Katherine Bindley in “Guns In Church, The Debate Over Armed Preachers Heats Up” (Huff Post Religion Aug. 13).