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The arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholdeth the righteous.
December 21, 2007 1:57 PM   Subscribe

Armed guards in church? Colorado's New Life Church: "The church's undercover security force is made up of an undisclosed number of volunteers with military or law-enforcement backgrounds, who carry radios and concealed weapons when they attend services." One of these guards recently shot a deranged gunman.

This is a single-link post but the page contains many links to the New Life shooting, the guard responsible, church security, Amish attitudes, a guide to hiring security for a synagogue, and a (possibly strained) comparison to the BBirmingham Baptist church that lacked security in 1963.
posted by CCBC (126 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Seems like Jeanne Assam may have saved some lives, which is a good thing, even though it seems strange to have undercover armed security at a church.
posted by Falconetti at 2:04 PM on December 21, 2007


God Marshalls? Are these folks fully certifiied by the DHS?
posted by psmealey at 2:06 PM on December 21, 2007


"Why doesn't this thought comfort me? Maybe it's because even though I've meditated on this long and hard I can't for the life of me decide what kind of gun the Prince of Peace would buy."

nice snark. i think real deranged gunmen coming into your church pretty much settles a hypothetical argument about whether churches need armed guards.
posted by uaudio at 2:07 PM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


i think real deranged gunmen coming into your church pretty much settles a hypothetical argument about whether churches need armed guards

Truly, our churches nationwide have been under constant siege by deranged gunmen for some time. It's about time someone had the balls to take some real steps toward hardening these goddamn targets.
posted by psmealey at 2:12 PM on December 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


Praise the Lord and pass the ammo.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:14 PM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


nice snark. i think real deranged gunmen coming into your church pretty much settles a hypothetical argument about whether churches need armed guards.

Not everyone agree with your sentiment. FTFA:
The Amish would not only agree but add that the shootings are part of God's plan and the proper response is not with guns but with forgiveness and prayers.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:15 PM on December 21, 2007 [7 favorites]


And the Lord spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.
posted by found missing at 2:21 PM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Amish would not only agree but add that the shootings are part of God's plan...

Well, that's all well and good for the Amish, but some people prefer more of a "God helps those who help themselves" approach. Are the Amish predestinationists? That would explain a little of the attitude. Still, it seems like throwing yourself in front of a bus and blaming God for running you over with it.

On a different note: there's still some little town in Maine that has a Colonial-era law on the books requiring every able-bodied man to come to church armed. It occasionally makes it on to the "Silly Laws" lists, but it had a real purpose at one point -- having everyone in town in one place, at one time, totally unarmed, is asking for trouble. I'll see if I can dig up a web cite; I think I've only seen it on paper.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:26 PM on December 21, 2007


'Constant siege' is a pretty weak litmus test for whether armed guards are needed - at a church or anywhere.

I'll step back a little. I agree that statistically speaking you are more likely to have an incident with the armed guard him/herself then with a deranged gunman. But isn't it strange to say that having an armed guard at that particular church on that particular day is a silly idea?

Say what you want about churches, gun ownership, or crazy people in general...but on that particular day an armed guard probably saved lives.
posted by uaudio at 2:28 PM on December 21, 2007


There are an enormous amount of church shootings--why is that? Isn't it supposed to be a sanctuary/house of peace/etc? And what's the percentage of parishioners/members shooting up their own church vs. strangers?

I was also really surprised that the other Colorado place that had been having the party turned the guy away when he came to them for help and a place to stay.
posted by amberglow at 2:31 PM on December 21, 2007


Well, consider the size of the average church service, especially at a megachurch. At least 2000. Their auditorium, built in '01, sat 6,400. When do you *ever* have a gathering of 6400 people without some sort of security? It would be lunacy. And, I don't see the problem of having people trained in the use of firearms carrying around firearms under the auspices of the church. Besides, hell, it's not like the New Life Church isn't now one of the higher profile churches now, anyway (and not in a good way), so why wouldn't they want some sort of security force after their pastor was publicly destroyed?

At some point in your meditations I hope you at least considered the idea that having armed and uniformed guards patrolling during service might also be somewhat of a distraction from the Liturgy. Wait, service, since they don't have liturgies. Is it a question of potential for abuse? I mean, these are known members of the church community protecting the rest of the church community, so I don't really get that angle if it exists, either.

I mean, we can all get behind the statement that killing is bad and Jesus probably frowns on all killing, and I guess the strictest reading of Scripture might suggest that you ought to just have faith and let what happens happen. But, would you really hold every religious individual to the strictest demands of their belief? These are the most challenging questions for just about every religion out there, to no mention anyone who abhors violence, and that level of pith has absolutely zero point, weight, or meaning. A cheap and easy shot does not a contribution make.
posted by absalom at 2:32 PM on December 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


SERMON ON THE MOUNT INTERRUPTED BY ZEALOT NATIONALISTS
Jesus, Star Preacher from Nazareth, responds with lethal force.

"Jesus had just said, 'Blessed are the Peacemakers,' when this crazy guy started swinging his sword pell mell in the crowd. People started screaming and running, and then Jesus produces this dagger out of nowhere and nails the guy dead center in the chest. It was a miracle dude. A bullseye with a dagger out of nowhere!"

Jesus is believed to have spent some time in the Distant East in his youth, where perhaps, he could have learned these deadly arts. When asked for a comment Jesus would only reply, "I come not to bring peace, but a sword." A statement that brought a round condemnation from the governor's office. "We will not tolerate rebels and murderers in this province. If this Nazarene and his band of assassin-disciples think to stir up the mob in Jerusalem they will find our legionnaires more than ready for them."

Jesus, already notorious for bringing at least one person back to life, raises the eerie possibility of an indomitable, deathless army of trained assassins marauding across Judea.
posted by MasonDixon at 2:39 PM on December 21, 2007 [16 favorites]


Well, that's all well and good for the Amish, but some people prefer more of a "God helps those who help themselves" approach.

Heh. The phrase "God helps those who help themselves" is a quote from Ben Franklin and it was a joke about Hypocritical Christians. As in, only someone who didn't know anything about Jesus would utter something like that.
posted by delmoi at 2:41 PM on December 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


My excellent friend and peer Gracie dealt with this issue directly, recently. She pastors a church on Chicago's south side. Recently, she saw a row of similarly dressed young men enter the rear of the church and take up a back pew. Muggings in churches are not unheard of, but she was the only person who could see the young men (she was in the pulpit.) She remembers praying to God very intently that they not do anything violent. Her husband is a Chicago police officer and usually carries a gun - even during worship. She was quite sure that he would have dealt with them directly.

Eventually, they got up and left. The amazing part is that she saw these same young men in a nearby park later that day. She walked up to them to share that she had noticed them in church. One of them laughed and said that they were only there to rob the deacons on their way out with the offering plate. But they didn't. They said it was because Gracie looked like a good pastor and they changed their minds.

Absolutely terrifying.

As a Christian, I am utterly and completely against violence. I can't for the life of me imagine taking another person's life. I know, however, that everyone has a point at which they will become violent. My friend David, who is also a non-violent peace activist, says that as advocates of non-violence we have a certain responsibility to avoid situations where we may be force to act violently.

I'm not entirely decided on this issue. I get into a lot of theological "hot water" over this issue, but it seems to me that if ever there was a time for a believer to be violent, it was in the Garden of Gethsemane, when the centurions arrived to arrest Jesus. From Luke 22:
"While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?"

When Jesus' followers saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, should we strike with our swords?" And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

But Jesus answered, "No more of this!" And he touched the man's ear and healed him."


It seems to me, in this moment, the use of violence is most justified. They have come to kill the messiah. Not only that, but Jesus is also their teacher and friend. He will certainly be tortured and crucified. So they draw their swords, but Jesus tells them to put their swords away.

Furthermore, there is quite a bit of talk in the NT about laying down your life for your brother, and carrying your cross, etc. I think the idea is that violence will never, ever generate peace.

of course, none of this applies to turtles.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 2:43 PM on December 21, 2007 [12 favorites]


there's still some little town in Maine that has a Colonial-era law on the books requiring every able-bodied man to come to church armed... having everyone in town in one place, at one time, totally unarmed, is asking for trouble.

Is that whole town of a single denomination going to get assaulted by Canadians, oxycodone and coffee brandy fiends or some tattooed snowmobile gang? It might have made sense back when the most popular sport was Passadumkeag raping, but it's hardly "asking for trouble" now. And Mainers are armed at church anyway, at least when they go in Dad's pickup.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:43 PM on December 21, 2007


but on that particular day an armed guard probably saved lives.

Churches aren't about saving lives, they're about saving souls.
posted by Faze at 2:43 PM on December 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Careful with that Peter, you'll have someone's right ear off!"
posted by Abiezer at 2:46 PM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


I can't for the life of me decide what kind of gun the Prince of Peace would buy.

Glock: Perfection
posted by TedW at 3:03 PM on December 21, 2007


absalom pretty much nails it.

These are not small groups of a hundred praying believers. These are huge gatherings. You get 3000 or 4000 people in one place and you statistically have couple of dangerous nuts in there. You have security present at every other type of large gathering. This is no different.

And Baby Balrog as for the Garden of Gethsemane? Well if I am in the company of the somebody I believe to be the Messiah I figure security is already covered. Let's face it the Man drown a division of chariots and detonated a couple of cities to dust just for being naughty in his sight.

But sitting at the New Life I don't think I would feel as secure.

'Course I don't believe any of it anyway. But If I did? God helps those who help themselves, right?
posted by tkchrist at 3:07 PM on December 21, 2007


Easy snark: I don't think people who believe that Interstate 35 is prophesied in the Bible should be allowed to carry guns.

Perhaps more telling snark: If members of your particular religious subculture are routinely descending into homicidal psychosis and attacking your churches with deadly weapons, you might want to look a little deeper than just putting armed guards in the pews.
posted by Naberius at 3:07 PM on December 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


Anyway. I thought that gunman in this case died of self inflicted wounds?
posted by tkchrist at 3:09 PM on December 21, 2007


Interesting thoughts on this from a "deconverted" former evangelical, now atheist.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:11 PM on December 21, 2007


Naberius I don't think the shooter was a member of the congregation. I think he was refused a bed at a Christian youth center or something.
posted by tkchrist at 3:12 PM on December 21, 2007


tkchrist: Let's face it the Man drown a division of chariots and detonated a couple of cities to dust just for being naughty in his sight.

what
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:14 PM on December 21, 2007


uaudio writes "but on that particular day an armed guard probably saved lives."

...and trapped them in this miserable mortal coil even longer. Let's not forget that our mortal lives are a trial*. The people in church had just prayed for forgiveness, and had they all been executed on the spot they'd be en route to eternal orgasm. Instead the opportunity for a free ticket to paradise has been stolen from them. Now they've got to suffer in this miserable planet and be tempted by the devil even longer. Many following this event will fall into sin and thus be condemned eternally, so a fat lot of good it did them to live a bit longer.

Seriously, worrying about your life while you're in church should lay to rest any claim that there is an eternal reward, and that anyone in the building really believes there is one.



* According to the people who go to church.
posted by mullingitover at 3:16 PM on December 21, 2007 [5 favorites]


life of me decide what kind of gun the Prince of Peace would buy

Colt Single-Action Army (too easy)
posted by panamax at 3:18 PM on December 21, 2007


I don't think the shooter was a member of the congregation. I think he was refused a bed at a Christian youth center or something.

I'm a little vague on his active church membership at the time of the shooting, which is why I fudged with the word "subculture." But he was one of theirs. The linked article makes clear that he was from one of those families, the home-schooling and all. And he'd been kicked out of their missionary program, which appears to be what motivated his original attack and the subsequent one in which he was killed.

So yeah, he was at that particular church for a reason. And let's face it, you don't hear about this kind of stuff with the Unitarian Universalists.
posted by Naberius at 3:28 PM on December 21, 2007


"Let's face it the Man drown a division of chariots and detonated a couple of cities to dust just for being naughty in his sight."

what


THE Man. The BIG man, upstairs. Jesus has connections, dude.

The chariots of Pharaoh. Then that major sha-zit with Sodom and Gomorrah?

I figure I'm hang'n with a guy who has those kind of connections a few centurions ain't no big thing.
posted by tkchrist at 3:28 PM on December 21, 2007


Seriously, worrying about your life while you're in church should lay to rest any claim that there is an eternal reward, and that anyone in the building really believes there is one.

This is likely a decision that has been made by the elders. I mean shouldn't a church have smoke detectors, too?

C'mon. I'm no believer but you have 6000 people in one place you have to have security precautions, fire exits, probably earth quake kits and insurance, too.
posted by tkchrist at 3:31 PM on December 21, 2007


I was also really surprised that the other Colorado place that had been having the party turned the guy away when he came to them for help and a place to stay.

Some background on the shooter -- Matthew Murray -- and the two incidents:
- he had been dismissed from the 'Youth With a Mission' center in the Denver suburb of Arvada where the first shooting occurred a couple of years ago for "issues related to his health." *

- "Youth With a Mission has been involved with the so-called ex-gay movement. It was one of a number of conservative Christian youth groups brought together by Exodus International, said to be the largest 'ex-gay' organization in the country, in May 'to spread a counter-cultural message of truth regarding the challenges facing America's youth today.'

- "The mission had a satellite location at New Life Church in Colorado Springs where two other people were killed..."

- A number of online posts made by Murray include: 'People like us are going to go to hell, according to Christians,' ...Murray goes on to list reasons. The seventh stated: 'I'm bisexual.'

In a subsequent posting he wrote, '... I can never get a female date. I am at least able to get some male action.'

...Murray wrote about confronting his mother about his bisexuality.

Murray wrote that he told her, 'Using drugs, alcohol and having gay sex, I'm just trying to do what any Christian pastor would do. At least I'm not doing meth like Ted Haggard.'

Haggard was the pastor who had been defrocked at New Life Church, the second of the shooting scenes.

Haggard was removed from the ministry after being exposed as being gay by a former male prostitute.

An outspoken critic of homosexuality Haggard was outed last year by former hustler Mike Jones in the days leading up to vote in Colorado to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

KDVR approached Jones about Murray's postings.

'Many of Murray's writings are right on target,' Jones told the station. 'It is about hypocrisy. It isn't fair to forgive some people and not others.'"
More of Murray's online posts.
posted by ericb at 3:32 PM on December 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


Well, there you go, EricB. I had no idea about that, but it does neatly fit into that murder-suicide at a church shaped hole, doesn't it?
posted by Naberius at 3:38 PM on December 21, 2007


BTW -- Church Shooting of Matthew Murray Ruled Suicide.
posted by ericb at 3:41 PM on December 21, 2007


Re: ericb's link above:

Forum founder's post regarding the shootings.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:42 PM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


I say we shoot them all and let god sort them out.
posted by cytherea at 3:51 PM on December 21, 2007


If you can't make it as a Minneapolis police officer, you can always join Brownshirts for Jesus as a mercenary.
posted by gimonca at 3:52 PM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Actually, from his internet postings, it looks like he was going through some like post-traumatic stress disorder. Poor thing.
posted by cytherea at 3:58 PM on December 21, 2007


I wasn't aware of the "Youth With A Mission" connection, thanks, ericb. And, from Baby_Balrog's link: "...he liked to lurk in the chatroom – mostly alone. Several times I went in there only to have him leave immediately, without saying a word." He lurked alone in a chatroom? Man, that is uberdisturbed. "Nightmarechild". Oh yeah.

For those writing to say that Murray killed himself: Yes, after he was shot by the security guard. Got it now?

People may be right that any gathering of this size needs security but amateur security bothers me. I don't care whether these people are ex-military or ex-cops or ex-DEA or whathaveyou. But I won't be going to church any time, so whatever you Believers want is okay by me. So long as you don't bring your guns to my house.
posted by CCBC at 3:59 PM on December 21, 2007


I'm no believer but you have 6000 people in one place you have to have security precautions, fire exits, probably earth quake kits and insurance, too

and armed security guards? In the liberal evangelical churches I was exposed to as a youth, this would have been simply incompatible with the teachings of the early church.

If you can't nonviolently witness to somebody in your own sanctuary, then yes, there is something wrong with your religion.

But it does seem to align with the Christian Right's general worldview of killing them before they kill us.
posted by panamax at 4:11 PM on December 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


Wow.

Merry Christmas everyone,
posted by salishsea at 4:13 PM on December 21, 2007


Security at a church? Oh ye of little faith. Digusting.
posted by Jimbob at 4:14 PM on December 21, 2007


it's a good thing to know that christians may be shot, but never persecuted
posted by pyramid termite at 4:21 PM on December 21, 2007


Man, where were these marshals when the Romans came to take Jesus away? Jesus would have been doing a bit more than reattaching an ear.
posted by mattoxic at 4:22 PM on December 21, 2007


Baby_Balrog: The alternate reading goes to Luke 22:36. When he tells his followers that they're going to scare off, he makes sure they're armed. I think in such a case, the non-violence stressed by Jesus in your quote is because the coming sacrifice should not be impeded and is indeed necessary to allow human salvation.

gimonca: Said with all the grace and class that I've come to expect from the blue.
posted by absalom at 4:23 PM on December 21, 2007


Next Sunday we all went to church, about three mile, everybody a-horseback. The men took their guns along, so did Buck, and kept them between their knees or stood them handy against the wall. The Shepherdsons done the same. It was pretty ornery preaching -- all about brotherly love, and such-like tiresomeness; but everybody said it was a good sermon, and they all talked it over going home, and had such a powerful lot to say about faith and good works and free grace and preforeordestination, and I don't know what all, that it did seem to me to be one of the roughest Sundays I had run across yet.
from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, chap. 18
posted by Creosote at 4:29 PM on December 21, 2007


I'll give up my turned cheek when they pry it from my cold, dead hand.
posted by jack_mo at 4:38 PM on December 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


Why are people upset about this? I really can't figure it out. Are the people holding Christians to impossibly saintly standards Christians?
posted by roll truck roll at 4:40 PM on December 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


You want to talk about the "Teachings of the early chruch?" When exactly was that, First century AD? Can't be, since most the scriptures were written at the tail end of it. So, then, the "early established" church would be, what, second century? Well, would those be the Gnostics? Docetists? Ebionites? In the middle of the second century, you're still not closer to consensus christianity. The Marcionites were a huge movement. These were all enormous movements in the "early days" of the church, because there was no "church." There were various congregations in cities that all held their own gospels and "truth." You have a guy, Paul, who never ever met Jesus trying to forge some sort of consensus (which, spoiler alert, he did,) but because his epistles are now canon, it's teleological in the extreme to assign any sort of modern understanding of "church doctrine" to the earliest days. Not to mention ignorant.

Now, you might consider that the first real "canon" was adopted under Augustine of Hippo, so if he's a church father, he made it a point of outlining how and when christian violence is acceptable.

I mean, I assume you know something of the "church fathers" of which you speak? Because, I know I personally find it really disheartening when someone spouts off some thoughtless stuff without attribution when they really don't know squat about the subject they're commenting on. Guess that's just my pet peeve.
posted by absalom at 4:40 PM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


absalom typed "You want to talk about the 'Teachings of the early chruch?' When exactly was that, First century AD? ... "

You wrote lots of words without providing any additional information and still appear like you know what you're talking about!
posted by roll truck roll at 4:50 PM on December 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


Why are people upset about this?

there's no way that church can win - it seems that they're being accused of some kind of nebulous hypocrisy and yet if there had been no one there to stop the gunman from shooting more people, they would say "where is your god now? smart people would have had security there"

oh, and

.

funny how people have forgotten that this time
posted by pyramid termite at 4:53 PM on December 21, 2007




I don't know that preaching peace and not acting with peace is that conducive to, y'know, peace.
At some point you have to walk the walk. While folks have a right to be protected from violence, if the church fathers are sanctioning that, seems a bit hypocritical (given they're preaching non-violence, I mean if it's the church of the Kick-Ass Jesus then solid).
But if the precepts are that flexible - must we feed the hungry? Clothe the poor? Protect the widows and orphans? I mean, if the non-violence thing is not immutable, why must any other principles be executed?
I mean I'm a violent bastard, but c'mon, not putting a dent in someone's head today is a pretty big step for me and I'm some schmuck on the web. These folks are supposed to be holy men. If I put on the mantle, I'd die before I was killed. I'm working toward that philosophy any how (slowly, day by day). It's something I believe but don't yet embody. Difference is I recognize that. Some folks are supposed to be walking it already. And isn't leaving the path, y'know, leaving the path? You're not a non-smoker if you have one cigarette.

And needless to say this 'forgiveness and acceptance EXCEPT THOSE FAGGOTS' schtick is really wearing.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:02 PM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


roll truck roll: I thought my links were enough. My ideas and information are influenced most heavily by Bart Erhman, particularly Misquoting Jesuss and Lost Christianities. (an an atheist book review) Since I don't suppose you've read either one of those, and wouldn't trust my descriptions of them anyway, I'll instead link you to the course synopsis of Dr. Erhman's on the subject. Here is a belief-net interview with him.

I mean, I know he can't hope to compete with zefrank, but I would hope that in a discussion of christian theology, that M.Div and PhD might count for something.

I mean, on the internet, we have nothing to back up our credibility but out tone, our sources, and out posting history. Feel free to examine any or all of those at your leisure, as well as the links I've provided. Now, hopefully I've presented to you - J Random Internet Person - enough evidence that my words actually have some degree of study behind them, you will be appeased.

I eagerly await your response to the actual topic at hand, which I assume you are quite versed in. Since I have athesma, and am on day two of a minor but lengthy episode, please forgive me if I do not hold my breath.
posted by absalom at 5:08 PM on December 21, 2007


On preview:

smedleyman: I was under the impression that the laity carried the guns, not the clergy. That seems an unfair comparison to make.
posted by absalom at 5:10 PM on December 21, 2007


Very few other tenets of Christianity are upheld by the New Life Churches of the world. Instead, it's hate they neighbor, do unto others before they do unto you, and praise the Lord for making me rich. Adding armed guards only makes sense. Pretty soon they can also charge admission and offer rides to the kids, excellent shopping in the church mezzanine, and 90 channels of closed-circuit right wing TV.

This was Ted Haggard's church. A hotbed of hypocrisy if ever there was one.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:53 PM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Good God, absalom. A believer referencing the early church doesn't deserve your breathless tirade attacking their lay understanding of patristics. And, for future reference, listing your advanced degrees as an attack strategy just makes you look like an ass.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 5:54 PM on December 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


In other words, "armed guards" in "church" seems fine to me. It's a long way from (trained, licensed, certified) armed guards in a (real, faith-based) church, which would be odd.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:54 PM on December 21, 2007


If you can't nonviolently witness to somebody in your own sanctuary, then yes, there is something wrong with your religion.

Certainly there is something wrong with HUMANITY.

Are you guys forgetting what happened in the civil rights days to black churches? It took a throng of non violent protesters from all over the country AND eventually armed federal agents to protect those people. Was there something wrong that religion?

Granted IMHO I believe there is something wrong with religion in general. However, damning one group of religious people for attempting to defend themselves becuase you don't like their collective politics seems a bit daft and hypocritical to me.

This is not your small little church this is a gathering of 2000 plus people. We can argue about the freakishness of mega-churches and the God Mall/Consume-a-Holy-Lifestyle type of mentality... but I'm not getting down on these people for having an armed security guard when it is plain as day they needed one.
posted by tkchrist at 5:58 PM on December 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


BB: Sorry, not my degrees, the degrees of the authors. I am not so remotely degreed.
posted by absalom at 6:40 PM on December 21, 2007


Author. Singular.
posted by absalom at 6:40 PM on December 21, 2007


FWIW, I'm not dissing them for protecting themselves when a guy comes in shooting up the place. By then it's a little late for winning over the heart of darkness by holding up your light. And the whole point of religion is that we don't live up to the example of the divine. Expecting them to stand there and get blown away because Jesus loved everyone seems a bit much to me.

My point was that, after a few cases of your particular sect, subculture, call it what you will, completely destroying adherents' lives and turning them into delusional, homicidal psychotics who randomly shoot up your churches in an apocalyptic frenzy, you might want to look into why that keeps happening rather than just have a few ex-military types on notice to shoot them before they can do too much damage.
posted by Naberius at 6:46 PM on December 21, 2007


Praise the lord and pass the ammo, cited.
posted by nax at 6:51 PM on December 21, 2007


You know, I think there is definitely a glitch in the brain of anyone who worships a deity they believe is all-powerful, good, interventionist, and on their side, yet posts guards. At least they could give up the 'interventionist' bit.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:54 PM on December 21, 2007


If this had happened in the small town where my mother lives, more than a few parishoners would have walked out to their trucks, grabbed a gun off the rack, and gone back in...
posted by mrbill at 7:00 PM on December 21, 2007


"I was under the impression that the laity carried the guns, not the clergy."

I'd agree the comparison is unfair were I directly making that point. The problem is - apparently from this particular shooting - Matt Murray is gay and the church was playing their mind games with him. You have Ted Haggard getting pardoned for exactly the same thing, plus drugs, and using a male prostitute. (Probably because he's charismatic and draws a lot of money for the church) so Murry flips out.

At this point we're talking two different things here. The whole right to bear arms against a violent attacker and reaping what you sew. Some folks are talking the former and as far as it goes I'd have to agree.
I'm talking the latter. I'm giving wiggle room here for these folks because what they believe in is, not to put too fine a point on it, bullshit. But it's based on the teachings of Christ (more or less) and fundamentally that (and really, nearly all moral action) boils down to the golden rule ("do unto others...").
So, first, were it my flock, I might have some ushers and so forth to keep order, but no, I wouldn't sanction firearms be carried by anyone in my church. But again - not my religion nor my take so, they want to do that fine. I wholeheartedly disagree with the 'undercover' element as anyone in need of actual help doesn't see anyone to go to. But that seems to fit in with the whole vibe of this particular church.

But the fact of the matter is these people are hypocrites (given they pardoned Haggard, given their stance on human rights and the rights of homosexuals) and to take arms against someone you've provoked is murder plain and simple. It's right out of Shane. ('Pick up the gun') And this kind of thing plays right into the persecution psychology these kinds of folks tend to have (you think republicans are bad? She's a Christian hero. She's already got a fan club. )

Hopefully the nuance here is clear. Other instances of shootings in churches are other instances and I'm not addressing them.
This isn't some nut who walked off the street and started killing people. This isn't a case of racial bigotry or religious intolerance.
This is a case of one of their own who was psychologically abused and oppressed until his mind snapped and in his rage and despair he saw no way out other than murder and suicide.
Violence was done to him long before he picked up a gun.

So, if some are pardoned for sins and others are not pardoned for the same sin - if the precepts of the church (whatever they are) are flexible given material factors (how much $ a guy draws in, how useful they are, etc.) then yeah, I'd have to say that pretty much chucks all the rest of it too.

Not to mention, I absolutely abhor celebrating anyone's death. It might be necessary to kill, it is never good, nor would I say my hand was guided by God (especially since he, y'know, actually killed himself, she didn't) nor would I call it, the act itself, heroic. Putting yourself between a shooter and innocent people, sure.
But as I've said, the church set Murray up for a fall either way. It's wrong. Bottom line, I don't think Christ, from any bible I've read, would want any part of it. But hey, I'm not a "christian" and I'm going to Hell anyway ('cos I've killed people and, for some of them, I'm not sorry....oh, wait, maybe they were homosexuals and it's ok)
posted by Smedleyman at 7:59 PM on December 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


They have a right to protect themselves, especially due to the numbers at some of the bigger churches. Even so, megachurches with their own covert force of armed Christians makes me a little bit jumpy.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:14 PM on December 21, 2007


Only on Metafilter would people's reaction to a church shooting be to criticize the church
posted by vorpal bunny at 8:45 PM on December 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


Mass rallies? Private security? Appeals to God? Here you go...enjoy.
posted by gimonca at 8:46 PM on December 21, 2007


I say we shoot them all and let god sort them out.
posted by cytherea


What a HORRIBLY inappropriate comment!!!!

You didn't capitalize "God."
posted by The Deej at 9:15 PM on December 21, 2007


excellent shopping in the church mezzanine

Actually I think they do have this.

Anyway, I do think having armed guards seems a little counter to what I think of when I think of Christian faith, but at the same time these particular worshippers seem a little, erm, particular. But whatever. Obviously they realized they would be a ripe target for crackpots, being in the national news so often. If I had worked there I certainly would have supported having guards.
posted by delmoi at 9:29 PM on December 21, 2007


Splashing Holy Water and repeating, "The power of Christ compels you!" in a loud manner will probably not stop a gunman. But I've been wrong before.
posted by thewalrusispaul at 9:45 PM on December 21, 2007


I say we shoot them all and let god sort them out.

Incidentally, this is a real story. 1210 AD; Simon de Montfort is called to exterminate heresy in the South of France...
When they came to the great city of Beziers; which is said to have contained more than a hundred thousand men, they laid siege to it ; and in the sight of them all the heretics defiled in an unspeakable manner the book of the sacred gospel; and then cast it from the wall towards the Christians, and sending arrows after it, cried: " There is your law, miserable wretches!" But Christ, the author of the gospel, did not suffer such an insult to be hurled at Him unavenged. For some of His followers, burning with zeal for the faith, placed ladders against the wall, and like lions, after the example of those of whom we read in the book of the Maccabbees (2 Macc.xi.ii), fearlessly climbed the walls, and while the heretics were stricken with panic from on high and fled, they opened the gates to the others, and so gained possession of the city.

When they discovered, from the admissions of some of them, that there were Catholics mingled with the heretics they said to the abbot "Sir, what shall we do, for we cannot distinguish between the faithful and the heretics." The abbot, like the others, was afraid that many, in fear of death, would pretend to be catholics, and after their departure, would return to their heresy, and is said to have replied "Kill them all for the Lord knoweth them that are His" (2 Tim. ii. 19) and so countless number in that town were slain.

- Caesarius of Haesterbach, Dialogue on Miracles
posted by nasreddin at 10:05 PM on December 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


And needless to say this 'forgiveness and acceptance EXCEPT THOSE FAGGOTS' schtick is really wearing.

Amen.

Are you guys forgetting what happened in the civil rights days to black churches? It took a throng of non violent protesters from all over the country AND eventually armed federal agents to protect those people. Was there something wrong that religion?

You really need to step back here and examine and distinguish from external threats and what creates internal ones. Synagogues get bombed and defaced too---but we never have members of a congregation coming in to shoot people like certain Christian Churches all over this country do. AME Churches neither.
posted by amberglow at 10:57 PM on December 21, 2007


This isn't some nut who walked off the street and started killing people. This isn't a case of racial bigotry or religious intolerance.
This is a case of one of their own who was psychologically abused and oppressed until his mind snapped and in his rage and despair he saw no way out other than murder and suicide.
Violence was done to him long before he picked up a gun.


Exactly.
posted by amberglow at 11:00 PM on December 21, 2007


Sorry I am late to this, just got back from the airport picking up my son.

My son, who was at THAT church the previous Friday night (before the shooting.)

Earlier that Sunday morning, one of my daughters called. She is at a YWAM discipleship training school (hers is in Texas) and she called to let us know about the shooting in Colorado. Later that afternoon, as I was watching the news while on the treadmill at the gym, they brought up the New Life shooting. I immediately called my son. He normally goes to a different church for Sunday mornings but occasionally goes to that one. Thankfully he'd wound up just staying in that morning.

The young man who was the shooter was obviously either mentally ill or demonized. Apparently his actions during the classroom part of his YWAM experience led the folks there to believe that it would not be safe for him to complete the overseas part of the school. (Again, my daughter is in this same exact type of school, and their decision to send him home was the correct one, in my viewpoint. If MY daughter had claimed to hear voices at night and make weird noises, and such, they darn well BETTER have sent her home.)

As to having armed security guards? To the best of my knowlege that church has about ten thousand members. It also is a very high profile place with some history. To NOT have armed security there would be gross negligence in my humble opinion.

A church is a place that welcomes everyone. In other words, no bouncers at the door. People who are up to no good can and do come in once in awhile. If the church is small or medium sized, you can keep an eye on folks. In a church that large (and I go to one that is over 4000 members strong) it is impossible to know just exactly who is in the pew beside you all the time. I have in my history as a churchgoer seen bizarre behavior on the part of certain individuals. I have also been accosted a few times by con artists on the parking lot (this is more usual during the week and during office hours ) of people wanting spare change and such. (These folks approach women alone instead of just going up to the church office and asking for help. Trust me, there's a difference.)

Having had a few discussions on the topic of the appropriateness of guns in church, all I can say is, the Pope has armed guards at the Vatican. If it's good enough for him, it's good enough for the rest of us. ;-)
posted by konolia at 12:10 AM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


absalom writes "Their auditorium, built in '01, sat 6,400. When do you *ever* have a gathering of 6400 people without some sort of security? It would be lunacy. And, I don't see the problem of having people trained in the use of firearms carrying around firearms under the auspices of the church."

It's a fairly unique American reponse though. We routinely have 5000+ people show up to Major Junior hockey games here. And we have security but they are "armed" with radios and flashlights. The only time you see guns is on actual cops directing traffic post game.

fourcheesemac writes "Very few other tenets of Christianity are upheld by the New Life Churches of the world. Instead, it's hate they neighbor, do unto others before they do unto you, and praise the Lord for making me rich. Adding armed guards only makes sense. Pretty soon they can also charge admission and offer rides to the kids, excellent shopping in the church mezzanine, and 90 channels of closed-circuit right wing TV."

Sounds just like The Fosterites from "Stranger in a Strange Land".
posted by Mitheral at 12:28 AM on December 22, 2007


There's something really twisted about a church stationing someone inside the sanctuary with their man-killer strapped to their waist.

If there's any place where you should radically surrender to the vicissitudes of life, without expectation of firepower guarding over you, it is in a church.

Someone brought up the civil rights movement, and firebombed churches, etc. The difference is that in those cases, there was an organized, institutionalized threat to these churches' very existence. The protection was for the church as institution, which was under seige.

Someone brought up the Pope. The Pope is a world leader and head of state; of course he has armed security.

Protecting churches from these organized threats is very different from stationing a sniper inside the church. I realize it seems preposterous to criticize a church for that --- but it just seems fundamentally contradictory to some core principles of Christianity to have a trained killer stationed inside the church.
posted by jayder at 12:37 AM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Since when is defending innocent people from danger against the tenets of the church?

That particular church has received death threats against its leadership. They were being responsible.

And as far as I know we don't have security at our church but we do have police officers who attend, one of which is in charge of homeland security for the entire county. He is required by that job to be packing heat. If a deranged gunman came in, I'm sure he'd know what to do.

Look, I do see the moral quandary in this. But again, for these larger churches, I don't see that they have a lot of choice.
posted by konolia at 12:52 AM on December 22, 2007


It makes perfect sense to have security guards at a mega-church, just as one would expect at any other large gathering, as has been pointed out.

What disturbs the hell out of me, however, is that in several accounts I've read of the security guard, she'd been fasting for days before the incident. Given the physiological and mental effects of going without food for days on end--never mind any spiritual benefits, illusory or otherwise--this strikes me as being a really bad idea. If you're going to go on a fast, maybe do it off the clock, especially if your job involves carrying a loaded gun around. You wouldn't expect a security guard to show up for work drunk, right? Well, I've fasted, and I have imbibed alcohol, and three days without food will make your head spin faster than three glasses of wine.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:39 AM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


But again, for these larger churches, I don't see that they have a lot of choice.

Why, do these people fear death, konolia? Why would they?

Do they lack faith that God will protect them, or at least has a purpose for their lives?

Lead by example. Turn the other cheek, all that jazz. I'm sure you know how it's supposed to work.
posted by Jimbob at 3:16 AM on December 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Also, you act like "mega-churches" are some modern invention that has no precedent.

What about the loaves and fishes? How many were there? 5,000? Did Jesus hire mercanaries to protect his followers, tell people to make sure they come armed? They were certainly under greater external threat than that church in Colorado was.
posted by Jimbob at 3:19 AM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


(Also kinda funny hearing a Protestant say "the Pope does it so why can't we?" although I assume you were being wry, konolia ;)
posted by Jimbob at 4:16 AM on December 22, 2007


Why, do these people fear death, konolia? Why would they?

why would they feed themselves, jimbob? why would they? if god really loved them he would make food magically appear before them and float spoons into their mouths to spoonfeed them - why should they ever have to lift a finger?

in any case, i don't know if you've heard of this, but death can be a messy, painful business - why wouldn't someone be afraid of it?

it's the afterlife they're not afraid of

Do they lack faith that God will protect them, or at least has a purpose for their lives?

what if the purpose is to protect innocent people with firearms? did god call you up this morning and reveal his purposes for everyone?

Lead by example. Turn the other cheek, all that jazz.

it's a lot more complex than that, actually - it always amuses me to see people who don't even believe in something put themselves up as authorities on what others should believe

this has got to be one of the dumbest threads ever - there are few people who wouldn't want an armed person saving them from a mad gunman - even few mefites

as long as the armed protector wasn't a police officer and as long as a taser wasn't used, i mean

sheeesh
posted by pyramid termite at 4:19 AM on December 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Smedleyman: You make an excellent point, and I find myself in an odd position. I do not see any major inherent problem with members of the laity being armed to protect the flock. However, I find many (most? all?) of the church's beliefs hypocritical and toxic, and am unsurprised that their lunacy created a lunatic.
posted by absalom at 4:28 AM on December 22, 2007


Are you guys forgetting what happened in the civil rights days to black churches? It took a throng of non violent protesters from all over the country AND eventually armed federal agents to protect those people. Was there something wrong that religion?

Side note that is actually topical to this discussion: The myth that all effective church-based civil rights organizing (and extending back to anti-slavery struggles) was unarmed, passive, and non-violent is widely held, but not true. The unarmed and non-violent civil rights protesters were backed by both organized and unorganized armed supporters long before federal agents ever began to help. The most prominent were the Deacons for Defense, armed Black WWII and Korean vets who attempted to protect the non-violent protesters. From the Wikipedia link:

The militant Deacons confrontation with the Klan in Bogalusa was instrumental in forcing the federal government to invervene on behalf of the black community and enforce the 1964 Civil Rights Act and neutralize the Klan.

... the willingness of the Deacons to provide low-key armed guards facilitated the ability of groups such as the NAACP and CORE to stay, at least formally, within their own parameters of non-violence.


Peniel Joseph's wonderful book Waiting 'til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America has a discussion of this, and one or two photos of the Deacons.
posted by Forktine at 5:47 AM on December 22, 2007 [4 favorites]


What absalom just said.
posted by mediareport at 5:48 AM on December 22, 2007


What disturbs the hell out of me, however, is that in several accounts I've read of the security guard, she'd been fasting for days before the incident. Given the physiological and mental effects of going without food for days on end--never mind any spiritual benefits, illusory or otherwise--this strikes me as being a really bad idea. If you're going to go on a fast, maybe do it off the clock, especially if your job involves carrying a loaded gun around. You wouldn't expect a security guard to show up for work drunk, right? Well, I've fasted, and I have imbibed alcohol, and three days without food will make your head spin faster than three glasses of wine

I have fasted for LONGER than three days. (Not lately, heh.) In my case my thinking was much clearer.

Also, we really don't know what kind of fast she was on. Some people do water only, some people do juice, some people just do a "Daniel fast" (no meats, no sweets.) But even with water only, I'm sure she was just fine. Especially when the adrenaline kicked in.
posted by konolia at 8:19 AM on December 22, 2007


Oh, and BTW, she along with the other security people were all volunteers. No paid security guards. I remember reading that the church specifically decided against having paid guards, feeling they didn't want to have "mercenaries."
posted by konolia at 8:21 AM on December 22, 2007


I think that the article misses the point that this is still America, and law abiding citizens in most states can still obtain a government issued permit to carry concealed firearms. The whole article had an anti-gun slant to it. The use of the term "assault rifle" is usually what pops up with the anti-gun "black guns are scary" crowd. (Seems it was an XM-15, a version of the AR-15. It's a semt-automatic rifle. It fires exactly the same as my Ruger Mini-14.. except that my Mini-14 isn't 'black & scary.'

Regardless, it's a $large_event and they're well within their rights to have armed security. That's a right we still do have in this country.
posted by drstein at 9:47 AM on December 22, 2007


I remember reading that the church specifically decided against having paid guards, feeling they didn't want to have "mercenaries."

So now they have the worst of both--people who think it's part of some good deed for the church and who may or may not be expertly trained or psychologically suited to do this work--and they're still acting as mercenaries, only for a different reward.
posted by amberglow at 10:21 AM on December 22, 2007


Wow, absalom. You kind of came off like a jerk there. "Since I don't suppose you've read either one of those, and wouldn't trust my descriptions of them anyway..." what gives? Who are you? I even did a Google search to see if we'd had some argument in the past that I didn't remember, but came up clean. I actually came across a number of places where I thought you were very smart and articulate.

The reason why I linked to the Ze Frank video (did you watch it?) is that you didn't reply to what panamax was saying at all. You just triggered on the phrase "teachings of the early church" and threw together some Wikipedia links to prove how smart you are. See, the cool thing about being smart is that you can use your smartness to put together arguments that other people can understand, even if they haven't read as many books as you have.

But when you actually reply with a list of Dr. Erhman's degrees, that's really a demonstration of disrespect for knowledge. Talking about how well read you are and how educated all of the people you've read are does not an argument make.

But to answer what I guess is your question, yes, I am aware of the various prehistories of what we currently understand as Christianity, incliuding the Gnostics, Ebonites, etc. I haven't read Dr. Erhman yet, but I've seen and heard other historians takes on it. None of this has any bearing on panamax's original comment.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:48 AM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


So now they have the worst of both--people who think it's part of some good deed for the church and who may or may not be expertly trained or psychologically suited to do this work--and they're still acting as mercenaries, only for a different reward.

so, like the Deacons for Defense, eh, amberglow?
posted by Snyder at 11:21 AM on December 22, 2007


"The Amish would not only agree but add that the shootings are part of God's plan and the proper response is not with guns but with forgiveness and prayers."

Here's an excellent post about the Nickel Mines shooting and the importance of forgiveness to the Amish, btw.
posted by homunculus at 12:04 PM on December 22, 2007


roll truck roll: Sorry I came off like a dick. Funny rhetorical trick. Puts me in an impossible situation. By which I mean, I explain how you can't talk about the beliefs of the "early church fathers" with any degree of uniformity. I site a few sources, but as a rebuttal I get a snide zefrank clip mocking someone for using "lots of words without providing any additional information and still appear[ing] like you know what you're talking about!" So, that when I answer that snarky criticism with "additional information" and addressing the obvious insinuation that I don't know what I'm talking about, I get attacked on the presumption that now I'm "flaunting" and just being a windbag. Well played, sir, well played.

Now, I hope that you will soon admit you no longer beat your wife.
posted by absalom at 5:19 PM on December 22, 2007


I haven't read Dr. Erhman yet

You're missing out. He's an excellent writer and an often-amazing scholar of Biblical history. I've had the chance to interview him and see him speak on a few occasions and have been blown away both times. Leaving aside the oblique nature of absalom's invocation of Ehrman in this thread, anyone interested in the subject of Christian history should make sure to read the guy. Lost Christianities is the one that seems to get the fundamentalists most upset, but everything I've read from Ehrman has been thoughtful, carefully documented, respectful of complexity *and* an engaging read.

That's quite a rare feat.
posted by mediareport at 6:48 PM on December 22, 2007


i have no problem with christian security guards snuffing out homicidal lunatics. i'm no friend of christianity (see posting history) but i wouldn't want 30-40 more innocent people to die, even if they were all bush voters.
posted by bruce at 7:06 PM on December 22, 2007


it always amuses me to see people who don't even believe in something put themselves up as authorities on what others should believe

Oh, I believed once. Then I realized Christianity had taken a sharp turn towards this sort of bullshit, and I backslid like hell. I now just regard Jesus as a real nice guy, you know?
posted by Jimbob at 12:55 AM on December 23, 2007


Only on Metafilter would people's reaction to a church shooting be to criticize the church

The church is absolutely and always beyond any criticism. The hypocrisy of its leaders is beyond reproach. Its mental and emotional abuse of "deviants" is not shameful. There can be no criticism of that which is perfect!
posted by five fresh fish at 9:41 AM on December 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


so, like the Deacons for Defense, eh, amberglow?

Not at all--they protected civil rights groups during marches and other actions, and not churches or parishioners during services. They did not operate inside churches, and were in response to an actual and established violent threat that the actual law enforcement community were usually part of themselves or sympathetic to--the Klan.
posted by amberglow at 2:21 PM on December 23, 2007


The hypocrisy of its leaders is beyond reproach.

it's not hypocrisy if YOU believe they shouldn't have armed guards, it would be hypocrisy only if THEY didn't think they should have them

i have the feeling quite a few people here have missed that point
posted by pyramid termite at 2:27 PM on December 23, 2007


what kind of gun the Prince of Peace would buy

Surely the good Lord would want people to listen to Reason.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:10 PM on December 23, 2007


Jesus made a FIG TREE wither at just a spoken command. So, no need for Him to carry a gun. it would be redundant.
posted by konolia at 4:39 PM on December 23, 2007


So now they have the worst of both--people who think it's part of some good deed for the church and who may or may not be expertly trained or psychologically suited to do this work--and they're still acting as mercenaries, only for a different reward.

I'm sure they would only allow those who were expertly trained and suited to do this to volunteer. Don't forget-they still have insurance companies to answer to as well.
posted by konolia at 4:41 PM on December 23, 2007


Jesus was also a ninja master so, like, there was no way he'd need a gun.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:48 PM on December 23, 2007


Jesus made a FIG TREE wither at just a spoken command.

[han]
Good against fig trees is one thing. Good against armed crazies? That's something else.
[/han]

I'm sure they would only allow those who were expertly trained and suited to do this to volunteer.

We live in a world where we don't require cops who carry pistols on a daily basis to be expert in their use, so I don't think so.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:12 PM on December 23, 2007


If I were handling security, I'd put a sniper up behind the cross. Maybe sighting right through Jesus's eye as he's hanging there. Perfect vantage point.

Or maybe I'd have nuns. With nunchuks. No one's gonna mess with The Sisters.

If it were a high Anglican/high Catholic mass, the archbishop got that incense-burning smokelator. Put some spikes on that sucker and he'd have a mace. Whaaaaa-chee hah! Down goes the bad guy!

And if the edges of the collection plate were sharp, one could go all Oddjob on the deviant's ass.

Oh, the possibilities are endless.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:25 PM on December 23, 2007


FFF, I imagine somewhere in LA that script is even now being typed out on some little computer. Either that or Wendell just got a gleam in his eye.
posted by konolia at 7:18 PM on December 23, 2007


Actually, it doesn't sound *that* far from the script of Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter, a fine film in which Jesus his masked Mexican wrestler buddy team up to save the lesbians of Ottawa from a vampiric onslaught. IIRC, it was also a musical.

Like many very silly movies, it's a better concept than it is in real life. But it did have the greatest tagline EVAR:

Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter -- The Power of Christ Impales You
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:28 PM on December 23, 2007


They did not operate inside churches

Who cares? It's not your church, why do you care? Your beef is that it's in churches. Yeah, right. Also, it's totally irrelevant to your earlier point where you assumed that the guards were thinking they were doing a good deed for church (not like the "Deacons," of course, oh my, the name Deacons must've been chose totally at random,) and otherwise untrained. Your just pissy because these guys are Christians and don't have the proper liberal credentials. I'm not even sure why I'm bothering.
posted by Snyder at 10:27 PM on December 23, 2007


Go insult someone else.

This is a recipe for disaster, and no house of worship of any faith should have armed people inside it--not any. If this church or any other of any faith can't welcome people without suspicion or hostility or presumption of danger, there's something very very wrong about it--no matter what religion or subsect of a religion it is.

As has been clearly stated--not operating inside churches themselves is exactly the difference that makes that Deacon group not relevant here. And that's ignoring the very real and very established and daily expressed violence and threats against Black Churches in the South and every single one of their members--as opposed the imagined and/or self-created threat here. Even with those real threats Black churches in the South did not have armed men and women as security inside.
posted by amberglow at 12:31 AM on December 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is a recipe for disaster

except that people's lives were actually saved, weren't they? if they'd done things your way, more people would be dead

some disaster
posted by pyramid termite at 4:47 AM on December 24, 2007


amberglow writes "no house of worship of any faith should have armed people inside it--not any."

Just for fun baptised Sikhs carry a knife called a kirpan essentially all the time including to church. Kirpans range in size from a few centimetres to a metre in length.
posted by Mitheral at 7:33 AM on December 24, 2007


On post the "fun" is in the knowledge/debate. Sikhs aren't wearing the knife for fun, the kirpan is a religious requirement.
posted by Mitheral at 7:34 AM on December 24, 2007


You've gone off the rails, amberglow. AFAIK you're about as areligious as I. WTF would you care what goes on behind the doors of a church, so long as it doesn't involve non-consensual abuse? Ain't none of your business, doesn't harm you in the least.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:12 AM on December 24, 2007


Now, hang on, don't pound on Amberglow too unmercifully. Although I don't particularly agree with him, his opinion IS shared by quite a few people of faith. A Catholic friend of mine was just as horrified that there was armed security in a church. And the truth is, it's sad to me that churches would even have to consider this.

Now I do believe, as a Christian, that God himself set it up for that particular church and that particular time and that particular security guard-otherwise so many other people would have died...but certainly God is able to use plenty of other means to protect His people. Again, I think for THAT particular church not to have security would have been foolish.
posted by konolia at 10:33 AM on December 24, 2007


Yeah, it's definitely understandable that churches which demonize and ostracize mentally ill teenage members might want to have a little protection.
posted by mediareport at 2:17 PM on December 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


AFAIK you're about as areligious as I.
I'm Reform Jewish, FFF--i've never made any secret of it here or elsewhere.

I also was brought up to see all houses of worship of all kinds as sanctuaries, where I or anyone could go for help or in an emergency, etc. Our own government sets them apart from malls and other places where people gather too--in many ways and mostly in hands-off ways. That needs to change if they're really no different from malls, as so many argue. Their tax-exempt status, their lack of laws regulating the training of any kind of security, let alone armed, the tax money they receive in "faith-based funding"--all are affected by this sort of thing--and people in the wider community are certainly affected. Their "ex-gay" ministries, their "psychological counseling", their instructions to their parishioners--all affect entire communities--always.

And the increasing militarization of certain Christian churches --and their extensive inroads into our Armed Forces are all connected--and all in that same region.

Very related--Military.com-- 'God's Basic Training' Coming Under Fire


Happy Birthday to the "Prince of Peace"
posted by amberglow at 2:31 PM on December 24, 2007


Yeah, it's definitely understandable that churches which demonize and ostracize mentally ill teenage members might want to have a little protection.

That wasn't his church.

Granted, if he were raised under Gothardism, chances are pretty darn good he was raised in a legalistic manner which could have sent a fragile young person around the edge. I really am pretty shocked his folks didn't get him real mental help, especially considering his dad was a doc, but unfortunately there are some people who see all mental illness as strictly a religious problem instead of recognizing the real possibilities of biological brain dysfunction. Even if the problem WAS spiritual, in my humble opinion Gothard is NOT the answer.
posted by konolia at 4:42 PM on December 24, 2007


Oh and as far as ostracism is concerned, judging from the experiences my daughter is sharing re her YWAM experience (she's home for Christmas) YWAM is a pretty casual accepting bunch of folks. If they felt like that guy didn't need to go on the mission trip, they had darn good reason. And more than likely if any of you guys had had a secular group going overseas and this guy was acting equally oddly, you'd have been suggesting he put off the trip and get help too. It's not a matter of rejection, it's a matter of common sense and wisdom.
posted by konolia at 4:45 PM on December 24, 2007


unfortunately there are some people who see all mental illness as strictly a religious problem

But isn't that exactly and explicitly what they're taught over and over? What millions are taught? And about everything in life?
posted by amberglow at 4:54 PM on December 24, 2007


Not at my church. They all knew-head pastor on down-what I had (bipolar)and they were nothing but kind and helpful to me.

But you are right, a lot of people are taught that. Which is why I was so open and honest about what I was dealing with. I felt I had an obligation to educate.
posted by konolia at 5:12 PM on December 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Now, hang on, don't pound on Amberglow too unmercifully.

ps: Please pay more attention to me and my naked swordsman in church links.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:56 PM on December 25, 2007


"Only on Metafilter would people's reaction to a church shooting be to criticize the church"

I think it's more of a Onionesque 'Columbine Jocks Safely Resume Bullying' sort of criticism.
http://www.theonion.com/content/node/29298


"...on the topic of the appropriateness of guns in church, all I can say is,
the Pope has armed guards at the Vatican. If it's good enough for him,
it's good enough for the rest of us."

Well, the Swiss carry Halbards, so that shuts down the attack from horsemen. Although some of the Vat guys carry uzis. I still don't buy preaching turning the other cheek while you yourself don't practice it. To be fair the previous pope did pardon a guy who tried to assassinate him, that showed some real commitment. But in terms of policy, no, either you walk what you talk or you're as full of shit as the opposite, an internet tough guy or those dudes who like to wave guns around talking about how bad ass they are. I don't trust them either. You pull it, you use it. Don't want to use it? Don't carry. But don't hand me a line that
we're all so pacifist while you're stocking up on ammo. I know real pacifists. I respect them.

But again, I'm not arguing (perhaps others are) that folks don't have a right to defend themselves.
Hell, I make Wayne La Pierre look like Ralph Nader. But given the facts of this particular incident,this particular kid, at this particular church with all the goings on (plus I don't much care for undercover in terms of defense against 'deranged gunmen' your best defense - and one that seeks to preserve ALL of the lives involved - would be visible security guards, armed or otherwise) Just saying, the whole "turn the other cheek" deal, plus a whole lot of other tenets - a big big one being, say, poverty - look kind of fishy when you're loaded with money and sporting firearms.

"I do not see any major inherent problem with members of the laity being armed to protect the flock. However, I find many (most? all?) of the church's beliefs hypocritical and toxic,
and am unsurprised that their lunacy created a lunatic." -posted by absalom

I essentially agree. I don't have a problem with the laity being armed. I do have a problem when the procedures taken in defense don't consider the life of any potential threat as valuable, when the gunman (in this specific instance only) had a kind of provocation, and when it appears (I'll stress - 'appears' because I'm only gleaning what I know from the accounts that I haven't seen mention anything) that only undercover officers were used.
I'm not arguing they should or should not be armed. I do think (as I've said) visible security
armed or not is a good idea with large crowds.

Hell, all things being equal I'd demand churches carry their own weight on security. I don't think they should get special treatment by the local authorities especially when they're not taxpayers and Joe Sixpack has to foot the bill for the police protection.

An organization using firearms lawfully is in no way against anything *I* believe in.
Sure as hell seems against their beliefs though. But that's 'seems' and a religious argument.
We agree they're hypocrites. Pretty much the only ground I'm defending here. With the caviat that some churches choose not to arm themselves against a threat.

I don't have a bone either way, just going by what people say about themselves. You (generally speaking) say you're following Jesus, swell. He didn't pack heat and advocated against it at the end when his life was on the line. Act accordingly. Otherwise you're not really following him.

If I came on Mefi tomorrow and started saying how I'm all about pacifism, folks would call me
on my bullshit. Same deal. (Taoists aren't exactly pacifists. If violence is needed, you fight until the goal is reached. If you can't prevent the need for violence it is still considered a failure tho. This joy at killing someone is beyond me. It can never be called good. No matter how many lives are saved. Not that one can't celebrate the lives that were spared, but it sure doesn't seem like that's what's going on there.)

I mean, what's wrong with me saying I'm the CEO of a major corporation and I've got billions of dollars and my own private jet and so forth and misrepresenting myself here on metafilter? Nothing. 'Cept it isn't true. So pretty much other things I say would be a little suspect.

"Jesus made a FIG TREE wither at just a spoken command. So, no need for Him to carry a gun. it would be redundant."

Yeah? That's just an IAD, lets see how tough he is without his dad.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:15 PM on December 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


Smedleyman writes "Although some of the Vat guys carry uzis."

The Guard is actually issued SIGs, something which makes sense as all guard members are Swiss Military trained.
posted by Mitheral at 8:54 AM on January 1, 2008


Yeah, I still see them with the halberds and the swords and stuff. Could be just the ceremonial guys. Not sure what the pontifical guys carry on the road. But them and the Vat Gendarmes are the visible guys. The covert guys tend to be Italian inspection agents (commando unit) and cover him in Italian territory.
Which I don’t have a problem with, obviously because I’m not an Italian taxpayer, and really, there’s a massive reciprocal relationship between the the Vatican and the Italian tourist industry, but also because it’s security extended from a state to the head of another state.
And I think Billy Graham, et.al. gets some state consideration when he preaches (although his private bodyguard is one of his fellow preacher T.W. Wilson, I believe) but that’s about it.
Bishop Noel Jones, Pastor of City of Refuge in LA has (or had) private armed bodyguards.
Never understood why they need bodyguards. Controversial sermons?
I mean, no ones has offed Fred Phelps, and hell, if it were one of mine he was screwing with at a funeral I’d be sorely pressed not to kill him.
It’s an absolute testament to brotherhood and righteousness that he hasn’t been harmed by any of the more than able men who have shown up to protect mourners from his fanatic rantings.

But ultimately money screws a lot of things up. Money moves. Some people lose or get hurt (deliberately or not) and someone might go looking for payback. I can see material motives for someone wanting to off the pope. Some of these other folks, I think it’s often just vanity.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:25 PM on January 2, 2008


Note that the gunman was formerly part of this merry little band of Xians, founded by Ted "I'm not gay and I don't use drugs" Haggard. My read is that the whole lot of them are gun-kissing right-wingers and that this violence is an outgrowth of the twisted atmosphere that probably encourages gun-totin' and jeebus-lovin'. They were arming themselves against themselves.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:18 PM on January 2, 2008


Megachurch related: Pentecostalism for the Exurbs-- Joel Osteen's God really wants you to dress well, stand up straight, and get a convenient parking space. (and i bet he doesn't have armed people inside his megachurch--does the church's message matter in whether they need armed security inside and out?)
posted by amberglow at 5:02 PM on January 2, 2008


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