Ky. pastor quits ministry to promote gun rights
October 08, 2009 @ 11:20 AM
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky minister who hosted a rally celebrating God and guns has resigned his ministry to promote gun rights and church security.
Ken Pagano, who held the “Open Carry Celebration” at New Bethel Church in south Louisville, is now working part-time at a local gun range and helped form a group called the International Security Coalition of Clergy. He formed the group with a New York rabbi and others who are promoting the use of armed and trained security at houses of worship.
Pagano told The Courier-Journal the church supported the rally, but he felt like a liability to the church and that he brought too much attention to the small congregation. Pagano, 49, also said he “reached the point of burnout” in the ministry.
“If we had just had a celebration service and it died down, it might not have been as big a deal, “said Pagano, a retired Marine who had been pastor of the congregation for a decade. “In all honesty, my heart was no longer in pastoral ministry as usual, and the church deserves people with more of a pastoral heart.”
The “Open Carry Celebration” drew about 200 people and included a handgun raffle, patriotic music and screening of gun safety videos. Some gun owners carried old-fashioned six-shooters in leather holsters, while others packed modern police-style firearms. Kentucky allows residents to openly carry guns in public with some restrictions.
Along with leaving his church, Pagano resigned his credentials as a minister in the Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination, while retaining his role as a chaplain for Louisville Metro Police.
“It’s time for a change and doing something different, trying to get involved more in Second Amendment rights as they affect the church,” he said.
Pagano is now working part-time as an instructor at Bluegrass Indoor Range and working with New York Rabbi Gary Moskowitz in the coalition.
Moskowitz said he contacted Pagano after the “Open Carry Celebration” and the two planned to lead a tour to Israel next year to learn from their security forces.
“I support him 1,000 percent in everything he does,” Moskowitz said.
Pagano and Moskowitz said congregations face threats ranging from terrorists and other gunmen. Pagano hopes his new work draws more clergy than the “Open Carry Celebration” did. “If I couldn’t do it from within the box, I’ll have to do it from outside the box,” he said. “God and guns are not contradictory. They are part of our heritage. I’m not ashamed of it and will gladly promote it.”