By Graham McDowell
Christian Action League
March 25, 2021
Earlier this month, the very liberal North Carolina Council of Churches sent a letter to the North Carolina General Assembly’s leadership, urging them to oppose SB 43 – Protect Religious Meeting Places. The legislation carves out an exemption for churches that share a property with a school to allow for concealed carry and form security teams to protect parishioners during worship services. Currently, churches that also have a school as a part of their property are denied this right in North Carolina law.
This week, Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, responded to the NCCC with his own letter to state lawmakers. Creech’s letter pointed out that two bills had passed, one in each chamber (SB 43 and HB 134 2nd Amendment Protection Act), which would allow churches that double as schools to arm themselves. He said both bills had succeeded by substantial margins, one of which he expected to prevail. Nevertheless, he was still concerned lawmakers not be dissuaded by the arguments made by the NCCC.
The full text of Rev. Creech’s response is provided below.
March 23, 2021
Dear President Pro-Tem Phil Berger, Speaker Tim Moore, and other members of the North Carolina General Assembly,
A while back, I was apprised of the North Carolina Council of Churches’ letter, which urged you to defeat SB 43 – Protect Religious Meeting Places. As you already know, this legislation has passed the Senate and been sent to the House. HB 134 – 2nd Amendment Protection Act also contains a similar provision to SB 43 and has passed the House and been sent to the Senate. Both bills succeeded by substantial margins, and there apparently is no need to be overly concerned about one or the other not prevailing and being sent to the Governor. Nevertheless, because I would not want you to be dissuaded at some point by the arguments set forth by the North Carolina Council of Churches, I submit the following.
First, it should be noted that the Council is a most Progressive group of churches. Their theological positions on a host of doctrinal issues and political ones are far removed from sound doctrine. Some, such as me, would refer to them as an apostate group, mainly having abandoned the faith as handed down to us by the apostles and taught in the Bible.
If you would understand how far to the Left they are, one need only consider that in 2018 they posted a billboard suggesting that opposition to gun control was a violation of the Second Commandment. The billboard featured an image of pistols, an assault weapon, and ammunition clips lying in a bed of bullets. It pitted the Second Commandment against the Second Amendment, saying, “You Shall Not Make for Yourself an Idol, 2nd Commandment.” In other words, it’s idolatrous to believe that guns can make us safer.
This is an extreme view and an atrocious violation of hermeneutics in the proper interpretation of Scripture. Suppose the Council’s view of guns is correct. In that case, it’s immoral to arm ourselves for self-defense, it’s immoral to have armed security protecting members of the General Assembly, it’s even immoral to have a military. Such a position is absurd.
Indeed our ultimate trust for safety in life should be our faith in God. Nevertheless, a better understanding of the Bible’s teachings on the use of guns against people with murderous intent is, “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.”
The Council of Churches’ letter sites a few isolated incidents (“accidental discharge,” “chaotic shootouts,” one occasion when the perpetrator “turned the gun on the owner,” and the hypothetical that having guns present at church meetings might make it harder for law enforcement to discern between “credible threats to public safety and those with concealed carry permits”) as reason enough to deny churches with schools what other churches are already allowed.
In response to these arguments, it should be noted that research shows starting in 2007, there were three church shootings in that year alone. Additional shootings took place in 2008, 2009, 2012, 2015, three shootings again in 2017, another in 2018, 2019, and 2021, with 71 parishioners dead and 40 wounded. These shootings occurred while people were peacefully studying the Scriptures, singing hymns, praying, and strategizing about how they might serve God and their communities.
I suggest these figures and the tremendous tragedies of bloodshed they represent should outweigh any concerns listed by the Council of Churches. Their feared scenarios, one of which is simply a hypothetical, are considerably less likely and even less consequential than some deranged or hate-filled soul who decides to kill indiscriminately and in mass, especially when the gunman knows that a congregation is unarmed and unprotected.
The Council of Churches argues that “the presence of guns in our schools” does not make for a safe place to worship or learn. In The Bias Against Guns, John Lott reports on a lone shooter who shot and killed two administrators and a student at Appalachian Law School in Virginia in 2002. The gunman might have killed more, except two male students ran to their cars, retrieved their guns, and threatened to shoot the gunman, who then threw down his gun, which ended the attack. A member of the security team at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, fatally shot a man who killed one parishioner with a shotgun. Law enforcement said if it hadn’t been for the church’s security team’s quick action, more innocent dead would have been more likely. Other examples might be cited to show that guns in the right hands do make both schools and churches safer.
As for a theological defense of the proposed legislation, I point you to the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, where the Israelites sought to rebuild the Temple, but because they experienced violent opposition to their efforts, they built with a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other. In the New Testament, Jesus never prohibited self-defense. Instead, he banned individuals from taking personal vengeance to “get even.” Moreover, all of the Bible says we should love our neighbor. Therefore, acting in love both towards an attacker and the vulnerable includes seeking to stop an attack before greater harm can occur.
These pieces of legislation, which reside in separate chambers, responsibly address a tremendous need, where churches that double as places of worship and schools are currently at risk. They have a God-given right and a Constitutional right to protect themselves. They should not be denied this privilege simply because a school is a part of their facilities. Sufficient precautions have been written into the measure to protect students. These churches need your help, and I implore you to assist them by recognizing that to which they are entitled.
On behalf of the thousands of churches the Christian Action League represents, I’m afraid I have to disagree with the Council of Churches’ spurious and misguided arguments. Jesus would not deny churches with schools the right to conceal carry or a security team because he did not deny his disciples to take a sword (Lk. 22:36-38; Matt. 26:52). So why should the General Assembly ban guns from churches that double as schools? Does any member think he or she knows better than God?
Dr. Mark H. Creech