Friday, June 26, 2009
Today's New York Times reports that Ken Pagano, pastor of the New Bethel Church in Louisville, Kentucky, has invited members of his congregation to wear or carry their firearms into the sanctuary tomorrow night to "celebrate our rights as Americans." The event will form part of Bring-Your-Gun-to-Church Day, which will include a $1 raffle of a handgun, firearms safety lessons and a picnic.
Pastor Pagano has for some time been a passionate advocate of gun rights. Two weeks ago, he preached a sermon entitled "God, Guns, Gospel and Geometry." The Times also reports him as saying, "God and guns were part of the foundation of this country." He also opined that "Not every Christian denomination is pacifist.”
In Pastor Pagano's church in Louisville, a large wooden cross hangs over the altar; two American flags jut out of side walls.
Commenting on Pastor Pagano's invitation to his flock, Pam Gersh, a Louisville public relations consultant who helped organize a rally in that city to coincide with the Million Mom March against guns in Washington, said, "This pastor is obviously crossing a line here and saying ‘I can even take my guns to church, and there is nothing you can do about it.’ ”
Pastor Pagano disagrees:
When someone from within the church tells me that being a Christian and having firearms are contradictions, that they’re incompatible with the Gospel — baloney. As soon as you start saying that it’s not something that Christians do, well, guns are just the foil. The issue now is the Gospel. So in a sense, it does become a crusade. Now the Gospel is at stake.