LDS Church Just Told Me That My Life is Unimportant

I don’t talk much about my church. I’ve mentioned it when necessary on this site, but only to reiterate why I believe a certain way on certain things. I’ve never, that I can recall, written a post strictly related to my faith. I tend to keep that personal or to only discuss in person. However, I’m making an exception today because my church has made a policy decision that fundamentally changes how I will worship. This post is not being written to debate my Christianity or your opinions on my religion. I won’t debate whether you think the LDS Church is good or bad. I don’t care what you think about that. Any comments that attack my faith will not be approved, simple as that.

I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I joined this church on my 19th birthday after much contemplation, prayer, and study. Prior to my conversion, I was a Baptist. And a Presbyterian. And a Methodist. And a Lutheran. And a Catholic. I’ve been baptized in search of truth more than John the Baptist probably performed baptisms! It wasn’t until I began looking into the LDS church that I found what fit into my understanding and prayerful consideration of the Bible (again, this is MY understanding, not yours and I won’t debate that here).

One of the things I really liked about the church – aside from the doctrinal issues I agreed with – was that the church was a fairly conservative faith. We believed in defense of life. We valued the liberties enshrined in the Constitution. We believed in helping to better our communities. There was never a shortage of people to go shooting with. And, above all, I was allowed to defend myself should the need arise.

I’m not what people would probably consider a “model Mormon.” I’m rough around the edges. I was a hell-raiser prior to joining the church and that obviously never dissipated. I didn’t wear my religion on my sleeve by constantly seeking or seizing opportunities to talk about the Book of Mormon or church doctrine. For a brief time back in the AOL days, I did run a chat room called “Ask a Mormon.” Because I had done so much personal research before joining the church, I wanted to share that information with people who had legitimate questions about our beliefs. Other than that, I pretty much didn’t discuss religion in public except when necessary to explain why I didn’t do some things or did others (like drinking coffee or engaging in political activities on Sundays).

Unfortunately, my relationship with the church was drastically changed today.

LDS Church memo on guns in … by The Salt Lake Tribune on Scribd

There is a (wrongheaded) school of thought within the Christian community that we are supposed to turn the other cheek. The theory goes that guns kill people and we shouldn’t kill people under any circumstances. Much of this theory is predicated on the teachings of Matthew where “You have heard that it was said ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’, but I say to you, ‘Do not resist the one who is evil, but if anyone slaps on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.’” The problem is that this is often interpreted literally – that someone is literally using their hand and smacking us in the face. I read that as we should ignore those who insult us. I doubt very seriously that Christ was literal earlier in that chapter where he was talking about adultery and advising that we rip out our eyes if we find ourselves looking upon women with lust. I don’t think he meant that we literally rip out our eyes, but that we change our habits so that we refrain from this sort of sin.

In the Garden of Gethsemane (and elsewhere), Christ’s disciples had swords with them. For what use if not for self-defense? That’s what swords were for back then just as guns are used today. Obviously, Christ believed in possessing the tools to defend the lives He gave us or he would have forbidden his disciples from even carrying these tools around him. I find it hard to believe that Christ ever believed Christians should simply sit back and die when our lives are endangered. He wasn’t a complete pacifist as the turning of the changing tables in the temple indicates. We are counseled to be peacemakers, but sometimes to make peace you have to defeat a legitimate threat. At the end of the Book of Esther, the tyrannical king allowed the Jews organize to in self-defense “to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them.” Did they “turn the other cheek” and allow their enemies to simply slaughter them defenselessly? No, they “smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword” (Esther 9:5).

I find it offensive and unChristian that ANY church leader would prefer that their sheep be defenseless and senselessly slaughtered for some greater good. Changes in the Church handbook state that “[c]hurches are dedicated for the worship of God and as havens from the cares and concerns of the world.” That sounds great on paper, but do you think the people that want to murder us care what churches are dedicated for? Do you think Devin Patrick Kelley cared that the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs was “dedicated for the worship of God?” Thank the Lord that Stephen Williford was able to engage with the shooter and stop him from killing more people than he had already slaughtered!

Do you think that Matthew Murray cared that the New Life Church in Colorado Springs was a “haven from the cares and concerns of the world?!” He was able to kill two church members and injure two others before Jeanne Assam shot him and stopped the slaughter. Should she have just “turned the other cheek?”

And what about Emanuel Kidega Samson who opened fire on the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee, killing one and injuring seven others? Do you think he was there to worship God? Thankfully, an usher named Robert Engle was there to confront the shooter who had to run out to his car to get his gun. Do you think he could have stopped the shooter sooner had he had his gun on him and those people may still be alive? After being pistol whipped by Samson, should Engle have simply “turned the other cheek” and expected to be pistol whipped again?

And let’s get more personal. Last year, John O’Connor entered an LDS church in Fallon, Nevada, and opened fire, killing one man and injuring another. It was a targeted attack and the shooter immediately fled the scene and ran to his home. I don’t know if anyone was armed at the time or even had a chance to respond if they were since O’Connor appears to have been targeting a specific individual, but shouldn’t members have at least the opportunity to defend themselves in these situations?

In 2010, Kenneth Ward entered an LDS church in Visalia, California, and gunned down the bishop during services in what looked to be another targeted attack. Shouldn’t our bishops and their congregations have the ability to protect themselves from people—possibly disaffected members—who may want to kill them because they feel as if they’ve been slighted? Or should our bishops just “turn the other cheek” and we can simply call another bishop to take his place?! I’m sorry, but that’s asinine. It’s completely ignorant to think that our buildings are these Utopian places of worship where evil can never exist and no harm will ever come of us, especially in these modern times where people can’t simply disagree or offended in peace, but resort to violence to solve their differences.

Yes, our churches are dedicated to worship and are places where we SHOULDN’T have to worry about the cares of the world, but when the cares of the world invade that space, then what? There is no magical shield around LDS meeting houses that protects us from outside’s evil.

In 1994, while I was in San Antonio and just before I joined the Army, I was attending a Fast & Testimony meeting. I was sitting up on the pulpit waiting my turn to share my testimony of the gospel when a female member of the ward got up to bear her testimony. Immediately, a man in the back of the congregation either stood up or walked into the room and began yelling at the woman and imploring her to come back to him. It was an extremely intense incident and when some brethren tried to quiet him down and get him to walk outside the room, he got aggressive and had to be physically removed. Needless to say, the bishop had to end the meeting at that point because the spirit had been drained by the incident. What if he had a gun? What if he intended violence? I was literally sitting in the chair next to where she was addressing the congregation. Could I have been killed?

To add insult to injury, the Church memo stated that law enforcement officers can carry guns in church, but no one else can. Well, that’s quite confusing to me. If a church is “dedicated for the worship of God and [are] havens from the cares and concerns of the world” what makes a police officer’s gun somehow exempted from this policy versus me having one. We both have them for the same purpose – self-defense. Ostensibly, the officer isn’t there to kill anyone and neither am I. I’m just as well trained as (or better) than any cop! In fact, cops don’t actually have that much training comparative to licensed gun owners, most of whom practice regularly, many of whom have taken many advanced self-defense course, and some whom teach them (to cops, even). But, yet, somehow the presence of a law enforcement officer’s gun doesn’t disrupt the dedication of our buildings for worship and somehow don’t translate our “havens” into kill dungeons and mine does.

Is the church now saying that it will ruin the rest of my life by having me arrested for nothing more than peacefully carrying a gun for self defense that isn’t hurting anyone? After all, the policy states that “All immediate threats are to be reported immediately to local law enforcement.” What is a threat? Some anti-gun, liberal member *(yes, they exist) who feels threatened by the mere presence of a gun? What if that person feels threatened by the law enforcement officer?

Is our leadership warning me that I won’t get into the celestial kingdom if I disobey the policy and take the risk? Can I truly “sustain” my church leaders if I blatantly violate their policy and carry anyway? For that matter, can I sustain leaders that want to disarm me and make me a defenseless victim because they don’t respect my right to exist? Is the church willing to make me uncomfortable by forcing me to worship in a place I no longer feel safe? Exactly what is the church telling me here? Am I a sinner if I carry in violation of church policy and hope not to get caught? Isn’t that not being “honest with my fellow man?”

If the church is telling me I cannot carry my firearm in self-defense inside the building—even concealed—I will honestly never enter that building again. I am not a lawbreaker, but I am also responsible for my own safety and refuse to rely on someone else for that safety. The police are not there to protect me. The courts have ruled this over and over again. I know many members around the country, but specifically in this state (and my ward) who feel the same way. If the church sticks to this policy, expect attendance to drop.

What really bothers me is that our church has as rich history of being called to arms in defense of each other and this country. As we were being pursued from New York, armed members stemmed off those seeking to slaughter us. There was an extermination order against Mormons in Missouri. We sent our own armed battalion to fight in the Mexican-American War. Those were guns WE owned. They weren’t provided for us. When President Buchanan sent the military to attack Mormons, we armed ourselves in self-defense (Nauvoo Legion anyone?) and prepared for battle. Thankfully, there was no bloodshed. Now, we’re expected to believe that there is no place for guns in this church?!

The church will claim this is about religious liberty. This is a hypocritical argument if the church is using right to violate another. Is the church saying that our right to keep and bear arms in self-defense is subordinate to our right to worship? Essentially, we’re being told to surrender one right to exercise another. That’s not religious liberty; that’s religious tyranny.

I will not lose my testimony of this gospel. I will not leave the church over this. I simply will never enter a church building over this. My faith is secure and strong. I can just as easily read my Bible and the Book of Mormon in the comfort of my own home. I can worship just as easily on the pot as in the pews. The church is making a HUGE mistake. I carry a gun so that I can live to worship and ensure that my fellow brothers and sisters can as well. I don’t carry in the hopes I get to shoot someone at church; I carry to ensure no one else shoots me in church. What the church has just done is tell Satan’s sycophants that the field it white to harvest at LDS meetinghouses. I won’t be cut down willingly. I will not return to church until our leadership reverses this policy and decides to simply follow state laws on the issue. Period.

34 Comments on “LDS Church Just Told Me That My Life is Unimportant

  1. You make a great point about current law enforcement being exempt. Why do they get special privileges?

  2. From an outside perspective of a Baptist.

    I think it is Church leadership “leaving barriers that will impede the spiritual progress of your children, your children’s children, and the generations that will follow.”

    Just saying.

  3. I live in Arizona and church has not notified us officially of this change in policy. In Arizona they actually have to put a no weapons sign on the door. That hasn’t happened yet. I know of at least 10 concealed carry holders in my ward that have been caring for last 10 years at least every Sunday at church. We’ve been talking and I think we’re going to rotate shifts being outside as protection for the building and rotate going inside unarmed. Church is only 2 hours so we can have two guys outside at all times.

    • In 1987 I held the door open to Tarrant county’s JP 1 court offices for a Deputy who went in, took hostages, later killed the girl friend he had been abusing before killing himself.

      1. Being outside while the shooter is inside means you can beat the police in response time. But how many more would be alive if you were there in a pew?

      2. Law enforcement people are human and have issues like anyone else. What makes them special to carry when the law allows regular citizens to carry as well?

  4. Well, just some additional info here. I know (in Missouri anyway) that bishops can designate a few brethren to conceal carry at church, sort of as first responders. So the policy announced is a smart idea.
    The idea that anyone who walks into the building can carry would mean ANYONE, right? So there’s now a potential early warning if someone shows up packing and hasn’t been authorized to do.

    TL;DR Everyone just calm down.

    • So? That’s the way it’s always been and isn’t a problem. Carrying shouldn’t be an issue. The issue is that people who mean harm don’t care about authorization.

    • No the policy is not a smart. First how will you enforce or know who is carrying? Next, why should someone be able to tell me I can’t protect myself, myfamily and fellow parishioners? Third. You would be limiting the number of first responders. Ever wonder why military and Leo use overwhelming force?

  5. I have a feeling church attendance will drop over the gun free zones as well.
    I don’t see this going well as a gun free zone. There are a lot of us who love the 2nd amendment. I personally don’t carry. I have a gun and should be able to use it if I need/want to. I know several priesthood holders who have a concealed weapons permit and they carry at church. This is comforting to me. I feel safer knowing these men do carry in the event that some crazy person comes in the building.
    This policy contradicts the Proclamation to the family. The proclamation states it’s a mans role to “protect.” How can he protect when the church has this new gun free policy?
    The law abiding citizens are not the ones the church should be worried about. It seems as though the church is becoming more liberal in its views. The church should stay out of politics.
    Might as well wear a big red target ? over our Sunday dress.
    There will be lots of innocent bloodshed and it will be on the leadership of the church. We’re like lambs to the slaughter.
    Very disappointed.

  6. Totally see your reasoning and agree with you. Thank you.

  7. Actually, this has been the policy since President Hinckley, it’s just been somewhat reworded and was never publicized much. This was even brought up during a concealed carry class I took. There is a federal registry of institutions that forbid firearms on their property and the LDS Church is on it.

    Still, I agree with general the line of thought in the article, even look at the life of Joseph Smith. I’m sure divine providence assisted him to make sure he completed the bulk of his mission and his closely listening to the Spirit saved his life on many an occasion, but I’m also sure part of that listening was the inspiration to call Porter Rockwell to be a well-armed bodyguard.

    This latest move by the Church is as if they are inviting crazies to come shoot us up. If the mentally ill weren’t already aware, we are unarmed and the press release is a good reminder that we want to solicit them to please come shoot down some of our beloved members so we can invite tragedy into our families. I have zero doubt the intent is well meaning, but considering the world we live in, it is a dangerous, wrong-headed and shameful move that could very well invite death and destruction.

    • Even Joseph Smith was armed in Carthage Jail. Before this change, the manual only stated that it was “inappropriate” to have a gun at church, not prohibited. So, the policy was one of discouragement, not prohibition.

  8. Actually, this has been the policy since President Hinckley, it’s just been somewhat reworded and was never publicized much. This was even brought up during a concealed carry class I took. There is a federal registry of institutions that forbid firearms on their property and the LDS Church is on it.

    Still, I agree with general the line of thought in the article, even look at the life of Joseph Smith. I’m sure divine providence assisted him to make sure he completed the bulk of his mission and his closely listening to the Spirit saved his life on many an occasion, but I’m also sure part of that listening was the inspiration to call Porter Rockwell to be a well-armed bodyguard.

    This latest move by the Church is as if they are inviting crazies to come shoot us up, because if they weren’t already aware, we are unarmed and the press release is just a reminder that we want you to come shoot up some of our members so we can invite tragedy into our families. I have zero doubt the intent is well meaning, but it is wrong-headed, dangerous and shameful when considering the world we live in.

    • Same post, reworded a bit….

      Actually, this has been the policy since President Hinckley, it’s just been somewhat reworded and was never publicized much. This was even brought up during a concealed carry class I took. There is a federal registry of institutions that forbid firearms on their property and the LDS Church is on it.

      Still, I agree with general the line of thought in the article, even look at the life of Joseph Smith. I’m sure divine providence assisted him to make sure he completed the bulk of his mission and his closely listening to the Spirit saved his life on many an occasion, but I’m also sure part of that listening was the inspiration to call Porter Rockwell to be a well-armed bodyguard.

      This latest move by the Church is as if they are inviting crazies to come shoot us up. If the mentally ill weren’t already aware, we are unarmed and the press release is a good reminder that we want to solicit them to please come shoot down some of our beloved members so we can invite tragedy into our families. I have zero doubt the intent is well meaning, but considering the world we live in, it is dangerous, wrong-headed and shameful move that could very well invite death and destruction.

  9. If the Lord has whispered to his prophet that we will never again need to defend ourselves in a church meetinghouse, then I sustain the prophet. The seeds of apostasy are planted when we privately murmur against our leaders. When we come out publicly and speak against our leaders’ decisions, then that apostasy has become firmly rooted, and the faith necessary to inherit eternal life has been lost.

    • Well, has he? It’s a bit presumptuous to assume what hasn’t been released. There was no standard “after prayerful consideration” or “it has been revealed to us” language released anywhere. It seems to me that it’s possible some of our leaders may be apostacizing since this policy essentially renounces previously held religious beliefs on self-reliance, independence, and individual accountability.

  10. Guess Im not moving to Texas!! Im staying in AZ. Dont think the same policy is in effect here, Never have heard it was. I guess if the first presidency wants more members to be more involved in the gospel at home, this is one way to do it. Trust me when the numbers in the pews take a dive or God forbid there’s a mass shooting at an LDS church this policy will be changed over night

    • It does apply there. The church policy change applies to ALL church building around the world, not just Texas.

    • you got a point… with meetings and teachings to be done in the home and fewer meetings in the chapel, I can see how this is effective in CJ’s point. It’s always funny how the church’s policies help the mission of the church progress. As the membership clerk, I’ve already seen numbers dwindle from Southerland Spring and Nevada shooting, We’re down 3 families! This is great gospel discussion on being prayerful and having faith in what’s being said.

  11. The right to bear arms shall not be infringed. We made an oath to protect the constitution. Last I checked Texas is in the United States and the second amendment is the law of the land. The second amendment protects all of the other rights including the freedom of religion. This policy is misguided in that regard. The LDS chuch leaders that made this policy are not listening to other church policy to follow the laws of the land. I would even say that it goes against teaching of Liberty that I thought this church believes. Members should speak up because I think we do believe in Liberty and this policy should be corrected.

  12. I agree with your sentiments.
    I wouldn’t let this policy affect you to deeply. Policies get “tweaked” on the regular. The gospel is the same as it was before this.
    The on the thing about concealed carry is it is concealed. This is how look at it every Sunday. It will only be made known in the unfortunate case it needs to be used.
    Kind of like don’t ask don’t tell.

    • The difference is that, unlike don’t ask tell, I get arrested if someone finds out. If I’m expected to be honest in my dealings with my fellow man, I can’t intentionally disobey church guidance and policies under deception. I’m not affected in a gospel sense. The gospel is still true. I think the policy actually goes against gospel. So, I’ll continue as a practicing Mormon (despite the church not liking that phrase either), I just won’t practice in a gun free zone.

      • In another venue it was suggested holding your tithe in escrow until such time as the church leadership comes to its senses.

  13. My dear brother, I have wrestled with this issue much and I have been a member since 8. I love the Lord, his gospel the church, my brethren and the leaders. I dont always agree with them but I have sustained them all this time. I dont know the answer. I only know that we must follow the prophet to gain the blessings. If we are killed in worship what better place to be? I carry all the time and find it really uncomfortable not to at church and work. My belief is that these are God given rights and no organization, no man no government can change, alter diminish or infringe any of those rights but then if he is the prophet is he speaking for God? This is the crux of the issue. Follow the prophet or not. It’s as simple as that. Please discuss this starting with your quorum leader then bishop, then stake president as needed and pray alot. Perhaps the blessings of Father will reward our faithfulness.

  14. If I recall, the central reason to attend Church is… To attend Sacrament Meeting to partake of the Sacrament to renew our Baptismal Covenant. I believe with proper written permission this Ordinance could be properly provided to Members in their Homes. This has already been done for Members throughout the World. No need to enter onto any Church Property. Additionally, to attend the Temple One needs to park on Church Property in the Parkinglot. Essentially, requiring a lawful Gunowner to leave their Weapon(s) at home, or park off site. In some places that option does not even exist. I know that this non-doctrinal policy is going to seriously damage, and very much harm the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    I hereby demand that all armed Security for ALL General Authorities throughout the World be COMPLETELY abolished immediately.

    NO MORE ARMED SECURITY DETAILS FOR ANY REASON.

  15. Pingback: Now Even The Mormons Are Banning Guns; Will Texas Law Let Them?

  16. I myself have a testimony of the church and the Savior but I disagree with the current policy. It goes against the way in which I was raised in that it limits my sacred duty to protect my family and loved ones which was even further reinforced by my Marine Corps training. You do not relinquish your sacred duty. Semper Fidelis is a creed that all Marines live by and it applies even more in relationship to your family. I will not put myself in a position of a victim without the ability to defend and protect. Instead I will follow the course of improvise, adapt and overcome in defense of my cherished ones no matter what it requires. Semper Fi.

    • You may consider people the lord has asked to lay down their life. Joseph Smith could have fled but he didn’t. The fathers of the 2000 stripling warriors didn’t take up arms. Zions camp marched all the way to Missouri and then laid down their arms and went home without defending themselves nor their brethren in MO. Sometimes the Lord wants us to defend ourselves and sometimes he doesn’t. Ultimately you need to find out for yourself if “The North American Southwest Area Presidency” are actually called of God and whether contents of the letter are from them or from God.

      It’s a tough position, I wish you well.

      • I’m waiting for word of why this policy was implemented. There has been no indication this is divinely inspired revelation. I don’t think the Lord would counsel anyone to be defenseless victims. That’s not the God I study in our scripture. In fact, i would argue this policy is in direct conflict with scripture.

        • Yup. Christ had his followers armed, illegally as they were an occupied place and I am sure the Roman’s had “seotd control” laws.

  17. You and me both.

    I have far more weapons training than most LEOs.

    This policy is misguided.

  18. You can’t carry on base. How did that effect you?

    “Let me make sure I understand what has happened to you. Because someone at church offended you, you have not been blessed by the ordinance of the sacrament. You have withdrawn yourself from the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Because someone at church offended you, you have cut yourself off from priesthood ordinances and the holy temple. You have discontinued your opportunity to serve others and to learn and grow. And you are leaving barriers that will impede the spiritual progress of your children, your children’s children, and the generations that will follow.” Elder Bednar

    • This has nothing to do with being offended. And it’s a false equivalence to discuss military law. This has to do with a church whose entire history has been one of self reliance and adherence to the laws of the land. The law of the land in this country secures the right to keep and bear arms in self defense. It is not self-reliant to look to government for protection and security. If this policy is so right, why are government agents exempted? Either it’s conducive to our church environment or it’s not to have a gun there.

  19. I do not carry but I very much felt concerned when I heard this new policy read over the pulpit. I have a strong faith in the Gospel but am concerned that liberal thought is seeping into Policy. I wonder if there is an acceptable place to express our concerns that will reach policy makers, whoever they really are, because there are more than a few of us with these concerns.

    I would add that Moroni taught (Alma 43:47)
    “And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed.” I am hard-pressed to think of an instance where we are commanded not to do so.

    Unlike you, though, I do feel that it is very important to actually attend church with other saints and there partake of the sacrament, as we are commanded to do, regularly. I do not feel unsafe doing this, I just do not like the bulls-eye being placed on us. And I certainly feel safer knowing that you are well trained and will defend a congregation you are in if necessary. I have come to be less trustful of policemen, so find that exception curious.

    And on a side note, light gray is very hard to read. Is there a reason your text is not showing up black? thx

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