Is That a Gun Under Your Robe, Father?
by Jan Baughman

...Or are you just happy to see me in church?

Guns and religion recently came together once again in the form of a story out of Sommerset, Kentucky, where a Church of Christ minister, Willy Ramsey, won the right to carry a concealed gun. Up until then, churches were exempt from a law that allowed judges and legislators to carry a concealed weapon on their premises. Father Ramsey felt the need to have a gun to protect his congregation; after all, where there's parishioners, there's offerings, where there's offerings, there's cash, where there's cash, there's robbers and where there's robbers, there's guns. Or so the logic goes. Better to have one dead robber than an empty offering plate.

Why not just carry the gun in the open? "It scares people", said Father Ramsey. Perhaps it's better to know if your priest is packing iron before putting yourself into that dark and secluded confessional, or deciding to skip Sunday's service for a round of golf. (Carrying concealed rosary beads is acceptable; though again, this writer prefers things to be out in the open. It's always good to know whom you're dealing with. A school in New Caney, Texas tried to forbid students from wearing rosary beads outside their clothing on campus, but last year, a U.S. District Judge ruled that the policy infringed on the student's First Amendment rights of freedom of speech.)

What happened to believing in the "will of God", "thou shalt not murder", "trust in the Lord and He shall protect you"??? And aren't there more peaceful ways for churches to protect their members, like metal detectors, or Saint Bernard guard dogs? Why not install security systems so that only card-carrying members may enter? There is something just too unsettling about armed priests.

Next thing you know, police will be carrying concealed bibles and reciting the Ten Commandments after they read you your Miranda rights. Just pray it only happens in a place like Sommerset, Kentucky.

Published July 19, 1998
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