Church Carry: Austin pastors weigh in on guns

Dr. Sterling Lands II, the senior pastor of Greater Calvary Bible Church in Austin is an avid supporter of the open carry of hand guns.

"I can't just broad brush and say well in every church and on every school campus, I can't say that. But I do believe that the law in and of itself is not a bad law," Lands said.

In his words, we have to stop blaming inanimate objects for the moral depravity of our nation.

"I refuse to accept the argument that if you would just restrict guns then much of this would go away. History has proven that that's not true. Restricting guns does not change anything, except the bad guys have more guns and the good guys have fewer," Lands said.

Regardless of his support for the bill recently signed into law by Governor Abbott, Pastor Lands doesn't carry a gun during church services. And he says he doubts he will encourage his congregation to bring their guns.

"I think that's a bad idea. I think that...you know, how do you filter out the crazies? Somebody's got to be a filter, you've got to filter someway," he said.

Downtown at Central Christian Church, Reverend Eric Gates, a retired Marine and Austin Police officer says he doesn't preach his politics from the pulpit -- but the church's stance on bringing firearms into the building is something that will be discussed at the next administrative council meeting.

"In our particular denomination, it's up to each individual congregation to come to a consensus or a majority vote in regards to hot topic issues like this. And so my personal feelings in this matter can not usurp the democratic process that we have here in this church," Gates said.

Last week we spoke with CHL instructor Michael Cargill. When he goes to church, he does carry -- and he says many churches come to him for help in setting up security teams.

"We'll give them a special class where we will help them with security teams inside their church. So they can make sure their congregation is safe. They want to make sure the pastor is safe," Cargill said.

But some churches, including Central Christian don't particularly advertise this -- if those measures are in place.

"You kind of want to keep that close to your chest and not reveal your hand," Gates said.

Pastor Lands says there are law enforcement officers that sit in his pews.

"It might be...poor stewardship to not have security in your facility. We have cameras all around our facility. Okay, why? Because people come in and they take things. I mentioned to you about the officers. Well what I didn't say is just a year ago, we had a whole brigade of guys who went through a certain security training by some of our officers," Lands said.

The pastor says the shooting hasn't put fear into his congregation.

He says if anything, they're just more alert.

Pastor Lands was out of the country on mission work last week when all of this happened, but he wrote an essay about the incident:

"We are heart broken, sadden and a bit frustrated at the lost of nine Black people murdered by a hate filled gunman while attending prayer meeting and Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

We pray for the families and friends of:

Cynthia Hurd, 54

Susie Jackson, 87

Ethel Lance, 70

The Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49

Church Pastor, The Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41

Tywanza Sanders, 26

The Rev. Daniel Simmons, 74

The Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45

Myra Thompson, 59

Rae H. Wooten, the Charleston County coroner has confirmed the names of these nine victims. I am pretty good-angry and outraged because this has happened in varying degrees over and over again with pretty much the same over all outcome. Listen, the church should be the safest place on the planet. People praying and talking to God ought to be an act that is held at the top of our nation's priority list. Instead these God loving people were brutally murdered in the house of God.

My heart is broken for the families of these good people, the community, the Church congregation and Church universal. Yes, I believe that The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. In that we don't know what to pray for as we should, but the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And God the Father knows what the Spirit is saying, because the Holy Spirit prays for us according to the will of God. And we know that everything works together for good, for those who love God and who are called according to his purpose. However, this belief does not stop the pain or the hurt right away.

This murder was an act of hate loosed in the Black Community in American, that has volumes of blood stained history. It is this type of senseless and cowardly action that is a reflection of our nation's unwillingness to deal with it's history of inhumane treatment of a people and the privilege of those who have and continue to profit from the prosperity resulting from that inhumanity. There are those who will point to guns and the lack of stricter gun control as the foundational issue. Guns do not kill people. People kill people.

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution states: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

This was considered a good thing until after the Emancipation Proclamation and Black people were set free from the slave masters. What ever your position is on that issue is your position and I respect that.

We must however stop blaming inanimate objects for the moral depravity of our nation. Behavior follows beliefs over time. If you want better behavior you must develop better belief systems. I am just concerned that we may be running out of time. A house divided will not stand an attack by outside forces. In our deep sorrow as a nation over the "senseless murders" in Charleston, S.C., are we able to come to grip with the true great divide in our Land.

What a fitting tribute to these murder victims if we face and defeat the cancer of racial hatred on all levels, starting today. How many more killings after these nine murdered people will it take before we face the moral decadent direction of our nation.

What will Wednesday night, 17 June 2015, mean to you after the media hype has ceased? After the various spins on the lives of all involved and the politico rhetoric subsides, what direct action will you have taken? I must say that after 70+ years, I have seen this before. It does not get any easier, regardless of race, creed or color.

Our actions today will contribute to making our Land better or bitter for future generations. Let's work on the solution together - no blame and no shame. Just Human Beings trying to do the right thing the right way for the right reason expecting the right results to benefit others and glorify God according to His Word."

- Sterling Lands II


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