Firearms in Church in Ky

This is a discussion on Firearms in Church in Ky within the In the News: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly forums, part of the The Back Porch category; Rights, Self-Defense, Guns and a Prayer - The Lede Blog - NYTimes.com LOUISVILLE — Some of those seated in the church pews here, their firearms ...

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    Firearms in Church in Ky

    Rights, Self-Defense, Guns and a Prayer - The Lede Blog - NYTimes.com

    LOUISVILLE — Some of those seated in the church pews here, their firearms tucked to their sides, see themselves as modern-day pioneers.

    “This country started by people gathering together in churches and complaining about taxation and about their current government, King George the third, taking armaments that they had,” said Chesley Kemp, 61, a family doctor with his Kimber .45 auto at his side.

    Dr. Kemp drove two hours from Bowling Green to attend a gun celebration here inside the New Bethel Church, believed to be the first such event in modern times.

    The pioneer spirit suffused a 90-minute program staged by Ken Pagano, the pastor of the Assembly of God church, for whom God, guns and America are a package deal.

    “But for a deep-seated belief in God and firearms, this country would not be here today,” Mr. Pagano declared from the church’s stage-like pulpit. “Amens,” rolled forward from the congregation of about 180 people who were celebrating their ability to bear their arms almost anywhere in Kentucky, including in church.

    Mr. Pagano said this not a worship service (the church posted a snippet of the event on YouTube). But at one point, he could not resist, raising both hands above his head, blessing his flock and saying a prayer.

    “You have become my parishioners,” he said. “I pray that the Lord will bless you and keep you….”

    If it was not a worship service, this Saturday in the sanctuary was certainly a platform for Mr. Pagano, 49, a voluble former marine originally from New Jersey, who conveyed his message through stand-up comedy, sing-alongs, YouTube videos of Penn and Teller, who support gun rights, and an old-fashioned raffle, in this case for a Ruger firearm, won by a sheriff’s deputy. The Christian Science Monitor dubbed the evening a “Saturday night special.”

    Doug Hawkins, a city councilman who represents the south end of Louisville where the Assembly of God church is located, leaped from his pew to bear witness.

    “I am glad to be among American patriots,” he said. “Thank God for you all being here and standing up for your rights.”

    Many in the audience were not members of the church. But they seemed united in their belief that their rights as gun owners were under threat and they had to prepare for the day when their firearms might be confiscated, (though Mr. Pagano declared that although the guns were not loaded, the church that night was “the safest place in Louisville”).

    As Mr. Hawkins, the councilman, said later in an interview: “Our country was founded on our ability to defend ourselves and may very well some time in the future depend on our ability to defend ourselves.”

    Dawnrene Bullock, 43, a former nurse, seated in a pew with her husband, Dwight, 47, a truck driver, agreed.

    “There’s a time coming when we may need to protect ourselves from bad things in the world,” she said. “We’ve been hearing the rumors about restricting ammunition so that it all expires, so people won’t have the right to protect themselves.”

    Her husband noted that there could come a day “when we’ll need to protect ourselves in church.”

    Another dominant theme was self-defense.

    “I’m not really a religious person, but personally I think if you can carry one you should be able to take it anywhere just in case something happens,” said Mark Frank, 20. He said he came because he loves guns and has no qualms about taking them into church, although he left his double-barreled shotgun and bolt-action shotgun in the car.

    Likewise, Tommy Hillerich, 68, a retired truck driver, and Maya, 58, his wife, a former auto upholstery worker, did not bring their firearms inside but firmly believe in their right to do so.

    “I don’t see a thing wrong with having a loaded gun in there,” Mr. Hillerich said. “If the pastor’s in there and he’s got a concealed weapon and somebody comes in and starts shooting people, he can take him out. That’s his right.” He added: “I think everybody should carry a gun.”

    His wife said she hoped this event would “wake people up so they would realize that this is a law in this state, that we are allowed to protect ourselves and we have a right to carry law and not look down on somebody that does.”

    Mr. Pagano fed these themes. “We’re not doing anything illegal, immoral or unconstitutional, so why apologize?” he declared. He said he hoped the event would lead to annual celebrations in the future.
    God invented cops so that firemen could have heroes too!

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