Mosques, synagogues and Christian churches have proven no sanctuary from gun violence. Nor are these places of worship above the debate over whether to go armed. (Oct. 31) (AP Video: Allen Breed)Rev. Jimmie Hardaway Jr. sits for a portrait next to the gun he carries on him during services at Trinity Baptist Church Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023, in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
“I’m really not free if I have to sit here and worry about threats to a congregation,” says Hardaway, one of several religious leaders who sued New York officials last fall after lawmakers restricted guns in houses of worship. He notes the similarities between Trinity’s worshippers and those at a historic Black church in Charleston S.C., where a mass shooter killed nine people in 2015.
And in a country where many faith leaders say their jobs now require them to draw up plans for responding to a mass shooter on their premises, Cady has reached the diametrically opposite conclusion. “Here we stand … outside of the gate, longing for nothing more than to get to that new life on the other side,” he says. “Yet hell seems to have found us.” headtopics.com
But as the Supreme Court has adopted an increasingly expansive interpretation of the Second Amendment, the right to guns is casting a shadow over many other freedoms Americans hold dear. The attacks, and more routine violence, weigh on places of worship that strive to offer refuge from the profanity of everyday life, says David Yamane, a professor of sociology at Wake Forest University whose work has focused on both gun culture and religion. It has left priests, rabbis and others to confront sometimes pained choices between maintaining openness and locking down, he says.
Ensuring safety in houses of worship most often centers on everyday concerns like medical emergencies and vetting those who care for children. But violent incidents at religious gathering places, tracked by the non-profit Faith Based Security Network, have increased more than twentyfold since 1999, with 60 percent of them involving guns.That is not the case at Hardaway’s church. headtopics.com
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