Churches consider response to concealed carry

| October 30, 2011

Come Tuesday, when Wisconsin's concealed-carry law takes effect, anyone entering Jackson Park Lutheran Church should leave their weapons at home. Soon, the south side church will be posting a sign that says, in effect: The only thing you ought to be packing in this house of God is your prayer books.

Religious institutions, many of which had opposed the concealed-carry legislation, must now decide whether to post signs barring weapons from their premises – knowing that the signs could expose them to greater legal liability.

Some are opting out, saying posting signs won't protect worshippers from those hellbent on harm.

But many, like Jackson Park, are posting on principle, saying the very notion of weapons in houses of worship runs contrary to everything they represent.

"This was a very strong issue for our council," said Jackson Park's pastor, the Rev. Fred Thomas-Breitfeld. "We wanted to make a strong statement, in the face of this new law, that we are a sanctuary, a place of peace."

Wisconsin's religious communities were among the loudest voices opposing concealed carry when it passed the Legislature in June.

A coalition of religious lobbying groups – the Wisconsin Conference of Churches, the Wisconsin Catholic and Jewish conferences, and Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin – had called unsuccessfully for a blanket exemption for religious institutions.

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Category: Church Security

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