A Georgia state representative and a Baptist pastor say Christians are sitting ducks at church and need to be able to carry guns for protection.
State Rep. Bobby Franklin, a Georgia Republican, introduced a bill that would allow church members to carry guns in church.
Rep. Bobby Franklin (R-Marietta) has introduced a bill (H.B. 54) that would allow church members to carry guns in church.
He characterized Christians as "sitting ducks" when they go to church because Georgia law prohibits guns in houses of worship.
"Georgians aren't prevented from self-defense when they're at a grocery store, when they're at a restaurant or walking down the street. Why should they be victims when they're worshipping together?" asked Franklin.
Franklin is a member of Chalcedon Presbyterian Church and a noted conservative legislator. Earlier this year, he spoke out against government-required driver's licenses. He also filed a bill to replace the word "victim" with "accuser" in statutes about rape.
"I'm really amazed at how our politicians here can't see how illogical they're being when they claim no one should have a gun in church," said Franklin. "The ones you're concerned about having guns aren't the ones sitting in the pew with you. They're the ones coming in from the outside to do harm."
James Brown Jr., pastor of Covenant Baptist Church in Barnesville, also said church members were sitting ducks for assailants.
In a YouTube statement that begins with an advertisement for Georgia Gun Owners, Brown said Georgia identified armed worshippers as "criminals."
"We are left open to attack by those who would wish to do us harm. We are considered criminals and this is wrong. The good news is that we can fix this," said Brown, urging viewers to support H.B. 54.
Joe Morecraft, pastor of Chalcedon Presbyterian Church in Cumming, Ga., where Franklin is a member, also spoke in a YouTube video in favor of guns in sanctuaries.
"Ironically, Christians and their families are most vulnerable when they go to church. Because at church they are unable to defend themselves because of the laws of Georgia outlawing carrying guns into places of worship," said Morecraft.
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To make his point, Morecraft told a story about how a friend shot an AK-47-wielding terrorist who attacked a church in Cape Town, South Africa.
"[W]e are witnessing the rise of civil tensions all throughout the world. As civil unrest, anti-Americanism, and even anti-Christianity increase, we should be able to worship and conduct church affairs without being a target of opportunity," said Morecraft, according to WorldNetDaily. "There are many factions throughout the world who would like to do us harm. Now, many of these factions are operating in America."
Chalcedon Presbyterian Church is affiliated with the ultra-conservative Reformed Presbyterian Church.
Franklin filed his bill on the same day that U.S. District Judge Ashley Royal ruled that Georgia's 2010 law prohibiting guns in houses of worship violated neither the First Amendment's freedom of religion nor the Second Amendment's right to bear arms.
GeorgeCarry.org and Jonathan Wilkins, pastor of Baptist Tabernacle of Thomaston, filed a lawsuit against the state last year, arguing that Wilkins needed a gun at church "for the protection of his flock, his family and himself."
In the filing, Ed Stone, former president of GeorgiaCarry.org, said his own "motivation to carry a firearm as a matter of habit derives from one of my Lord's last recorded statements at the 'last supper,' that 'whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one' ... I believe that this injunction requires me to obtain, keep and carry a firearm wherever I happen to be."
Sonny Perdue, then governor of Georgia, signed the 2010 bill into law that restricted guns from places of worship.
Perdue, a Republican, is a member of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, a congregation affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
Tony Romans, pastor of North Peachtree Baptist Church in Dunwoody, said he wants his worshippers to "be able to defend each other" but didn't want all members armed.
Analia Bortz, rabbi at Congregation Or Hadash in Sandy Springs, told Fox 5 TV that she opposed Franklin's bill. She did say the temple had professional security guards outside the sanctuary to protect against possible anti-Semitic elements.
"It is our faith that is our protection, not the weapon," said Plemon el-Amin, imam at Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam, who opposed the gun bill. "Everybody being armed to the teeth is not going to decrease murder, it's going to increase it."
Bills to allow guns in churches have also been introduced in Michigan and Oklahoma.