Kansas bishops issue pastoral directive banning firearms in churches

Posted Jun 22, 2016

[Episcopal Diocese of Kansas] Episcopal Diocese of Kansas Bishop Dean Wolfe and Episcopal Diocese of Western Kansas Bishop Michael Milliken June 20 issued a pastoral directive banning firearms from Episcopal churches in the state, effective Aug. 1, unless they are carried by designated law enforcement officials in the line of duty.

In a letter sent to all churches, the bishops said changes to state law in recent years “has led to permission being given to carry firearms, openly or concealed, into churches and other houses of worship. These changes reverse long-standing law and practice regarding firearms in our state.”

The bishops concluded that the changes allowing anyone to bring guns into a church “unnecessarily endanger the citizens of our state and the members of our parishes.”

They took this action through a provision in state gun laws that allows them as ecclesiastical authorities to prohibit firearms in their jurisdiction, so long as the required signage is in place to notify the public.

Each bishop made available a quantity of the sign that is required by the Kansas Attorney General, operating under state law, to be posted on all public and non-public entrances to church facilities. It features a black handgun surrounded by a red circle, with a red line through it.

The bishops’ statement said that while the directive was designed to meet the requirements of state law, they hoped it served a greater purpose. “…we hope all the more it will serve as a testament to the promised future reign of Christ in which ‘no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love.’”

A copy of the joint pastoral directive from Wolfe and Milliken is available here.


Comments (5)

  1. Frank Bergen says:

    Would that all our bishops would do likewise.

    1. Thomas E Tobin says:

      This will be another gun free zone for Terrorists to attack with no worry.

  2. Judy Heller says:

    If you and/or your friends/family have guns, you will find some good advice here: saveourkids.info

  3. Doug Desper says:

    Somehow, this strikes me as a very well-intentioned gesture for a practically non-existent problem. Are there really that many Episcopalians packing heat in the churches of Kansas? I dread the day that the church starts posting edicts on the walls and doors frowning on behaviors not in vogue with the sentiments of the day. Depending on whom you ask, these would be equally important pronouncements by bishops: “Only Fair Trade Clothing on Parishioners”, “No Sodas During Pot Lucks or Coffee Hour”, “Carbon-Gobbling Cars Prohibited”, “No Styrofoam”, or “Carpooling Only”. The last sign to be posted — and probably already needed — is “Members Wanted”.

    1. jonathan hutchison says:

      As to your first point, Doug, card-carrying Episcopalians are not the only people who use our semi-public church facilities. Several years ago, I intercepted a non-member attempting to carry a firearm into child’s birthday party in our parish hall! In any case, it would be naive (and elitist) to presume that there are no Episcopalians among the growing number of Americans who conceal or openly carry firearms in this day and age.

      Your list of “equally important pronouncements” has a whiff of anti-PC sentiment, but surely you would not denigrate faith communities which seek to reflect, in their common life, the Gospel’s call for economic and environmental justice. That said, to compare this pastoral directive to these hypotheticals is to trivialize both the one and the other. The hazards of a Styrofoam cup at coffee hour or a Humvee in the parking lot are in no way comparable to a loaded firearm in the house of worship.

      Pastoral directives are not only a way to encourage a certain order within the household of God; they are also a means of bearing public witness to the central values of the Faith. In this case, the Kansas Bishops have testified to the non-violent ethic of our Founder and the power of the “perfect Love that casts out fear”.

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