A. Open hearts and carrying Bibles? B. Opening the church's doors to all people, regardless of race, cultural background, or sexual preference while promising to carry these broken-hearted people to God within a supportive community? C. Open-minded believers carrying the burdens of the world's marginalized toward a high and holy calling for peace and justice? D. Wearing guns in holsters and listening to people talk about the Second Amendment right to bear arms?I hope you chose B or C. But you'd be wrong. The answer is D. I'm not making it up: Pastor Ken Pagano of New Bethel Church in Louisville says he's "basically trying to think a little bit outside the box" to promote "responsible gun ownership and Second Amendment rights." It's something of a patriotic celebration - timed to coincide with the 4th of July - birthday of the land where all, I am aware, are free to worship as they choose. Pastor Pagano elaborates on his "outside the box" thinking with this historic/religious perspective on the birth of our nation: "We're not ashamed to say that there was a strong belief in God and firearms — without that this country wouldn't be here." So here we go, mixing our patriotism with our prayer life and strapping on a gun just to prove the depth of our faith in ... what? A country held together by a belief in God and Gun?
Blessed are the peacemakers. Those are words credited to Jesus.Looking at a timeline, I don't think it's possible he was referring to a Colt single action revolver. Perhaps Jesus was speaking of the uphill path that leads toward the place where enemies are loved, cheeks are turned, and swords are hammered into plowshares. If Ken Pagano were my pastor, I'd be reminding him that it's not his job to protect my constitutional rights as a citizen of the United States of America. We have a Supreme Court for that. I'd tell him it's his job to encourage my right to stand before the Holy One each and every day with a heart longing for the courage to take the road less traveled. The one that suggests I be armed with truth, righteousness, and peace. May the PEACE of Christ be with you, my brothers and sisters in Louisville, Kentucky. You are free to leave the piece behind.