Georgia pastors debate guns in churches after Charleston - CBS46 News

Georgia pastors debate guns in churches after Charleston

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When it comes to the issue of having guns inside the church, not all leaders are in agreement about how to proceed.

Pastor Tom Rush leads a church in Newton County that allows its regular members to carry guns if they have a permit. But Pastor Baron Mullis of Atlanta's Morningside Presbyterian has chosen not to allow any type of guns on the premises. Not even professional armed security.

"Church members are citizens of Georgia," said Rush. "They shouldn't forfeit their second amendment rights."

"This is a place of peace," said Mullis, "This is not a place for guns."

Ever since the law was passed last year, individual churches in Georgia have been allowed to decide if they will let members of their congregation carry guns or not.  At about the same time, South Carolina passed an opposite law, banning everybody from having guns in churches.

Pastors like Mullis are openly against allowing regular members to carry guns, but Rush encourages his congregation to defend themselves. 

"We've made the decision that it would help us to provide security," said Rush. "I believe that all churches are going to have to take seriously doing a better job of security, and if they're not going to allow the citizens to carry, then they're going to have to consider other ways to provide security for their congregants."

"The response I would make to that is that the presence of a cross in our sanctuary reminds us that God's response to violence is never greater violence," said Mullis.

Pastor Mullis feels just the opposite way from Pastor Rush, saying that defending against a surprise attacker is not the Christian way.

"They need to do what's right for their congregations, but with expression for our faith here at Morningside, we believe that God calls us to non-violence," said Mullis. "Christian faith does not call us to safety. Christian faith calls us to discipleship. We are discipled to the Prince of Peace. The one whose answer to violence was non-violence. Even to the point of death on a cross."

"There are people who feel very strongly that weapons are not appropriate in a church. They feel like maybe it's an issue of justice. I think it would be unjust not to protect the innocent," said Rush.

But both pastors do agree on one thing, that there's been a change in society that they've noticed over time. 

"When I came in the ministry, we didn't even lock the doors of the sanctuary. We would leave it open for people to come and pray," said Rush.

"We're more accustomed to seeing violence such as we're seeing, and perhaps more acclimated to it. It doesn't shock us as badly as it used to, but it should," said Mullis.

While they are divided on the issue of guns, both churches stand in solidarity with the victims of South Carolina and will be asking their members to pray for them this Sunday.

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