Some North Dakota Pastors Only Want Religious Liberty Some Of The Time


There were plenty of religious leaders in the state who testified in favor of legislation in Bismarck which lifts the state’s prohibition on guns in churches, leaving it up to the churches themselves. But there are some religious leaders opposed too.

To me, the case for allowing concealed carry in churches is obvious. Places of worship can often be targets for those looking to make a religious or political statement, or for those who are just mentally deranged as we saw in Ohio over the Easter weekend. Places like schools and churches which are known to be “gun free zones” are targeted, again and again, and the best way to help protect those places is to make it so that they’re no longer gun free zones.

But still, some argue that they don’t want guns in their churches. Which is fine. Under the law passed by the legislature, which is pending Governor Jack Dalrymple’s signature, the decision about guns is left up to the church leadership. Yet, even with that provision, some church leaders want a ban on guns in all churches arguing that the mixture of church in state is ok in this instance:

Speaking for himself as an individual pastor, the Rev. Mark Narum, bishop of the Western North Dakota Synod of the ELCA, sent a message to Gov. Jack Dalrymple explaining his opposition to the legislation.

Church/state separation as a rationale for the bill “is an argument that holds no water,” Narum said. “I wrote to several senators on Maundy Thursday asking them to vote no,” he said.

“To me, this is a safety issue,” Narum said.

Narum’s letter reflects the feelings of Lutheran pastors such as the Rev. Paul Schauer, pastor of Sunne Lutheran Church, rural Wilton, and the Rev. Wes Aardahl, pastor at Faith Lutheran Church in Bismarck.

I tend to think of this issue in the context of gay marriage. Just because some churches don’t want to marry gays doesn’t mean the government should prohibit gay marriage for all churches, and vice versa. No church should be forced to bless a sort of union they find immoral.

The same goes with guns. Just because Rev. Narum doesn’t want guns in his church doesn’t mean that other churches shouldn’t be allowed to make that decision for themselves.

What Rev. Narum is against isn’t allowing guns in churches. He’s against churches having the freedom to set gun policy in accordance with the wishes of their congregations.