At some Virginia churches, guns are an invisible part of the routine

| April 18, 2011

Parishioners carried Bibles in embroidered cases, babies with ribbons in their hair, and flutes, violins and sheet music into Immanuel Bible Church for Palm Sunday services.

And a few carried guns, tucked into waistbands, hidden under suit jackets.

At least a dozen members of this Springfield congregation routinely bring concealed weapons to services, said the Rev. Steve Holley, the church’s pastor of ministries. Since the Virginia attorney general published an advisory opinion last week on weapons in houses of worship, Holley wonders whether more of his flock will have “a Bible in one holster and a handgun in the other as they come to church.”

Virginia law bars guns in religious meetings unless the person has a “good and sufficient reason” to carry a weapon. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) wrote that personal protection meets the legal standard as a reason to carry a firearm. He said, however, that a church can choose to ban guns on its property.

His opinion sparked strong responses. Some called it an affront to the tradition of the church as a sanctuary from violence. Others said: “Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition!”

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Category: Church Security

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