BY T.F. STERN
That’s a heck of a way to start off, Following the Prophet at all times is a challenge. But that’s as true a statement from me as you’ll get. The Prophet is the mouthpiece of the Lord and speaks only what the Lord would have said if He were addressing us; this I believe and so I do my best to be obedient.
I consider all the knowledge obtained in my years of mortality, mix in the wisdom of the Lord which I may or may not yet possess as gleaned from the scriptures and Prophets and try to figure out if it makes sense as I move forward in my journey to become more like the person the Lord would have me be.
That brings us to the topic of the day, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints recently announced the newest policy regarding the carrying of concealed weapons in church buildings.
“Churches are dedicated for the worship of God and as havens from the cares and concerns of the world. With the exception of current law enforcement officers, the carrying of lethal weapons on church property, concealed or otherwise, is prohibited.”
This new policy is a minor, yet significant change from the precious policy; the previous rule said the carrying of lethal weapons was inappropriate. Why, I asked myself, why did the policy go from “inappropriate” to “prohibited”?
I ask this for a number of reasons; but there are a few that come mind, some of which are in the form of posters commonly available.
The 11th Article of Faith sticks out as being somewhat hypocritical if we look at it along the lines, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.” (Unless they happen to believe it’s wise to be armed against the evils of the world even if that place of worship happens to be in a building owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints).
Do you see where such a thought might creep into the internal debate going on in my head?
That leads to one of the more popular quotes from the Prophet Joseph Smith, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” Having been taught correct principles, wouldn’t the Lord leave the topic of self-preservation up to each individual?
Recently, Elder Holland, during a General Conference talk, reminded us of this principle, “The only real control in life is self control”. Doesn’t this run contrary to being prohibited from acting on your own thoughts and actions?
Has the Church, meaning the leadership of the Church, bowed to the pressures of the world as the idea of owning and bearing arms has become a battle ground of contention?
Those on one side of the debate are determined to remove or at least sharply reduce the effective meaning of our 2nd Amendment while the other side consistently reminds folks that self-preservation and of those around you is a God given right, one which isn’t up for debate.
I recognize that we have become a world-wide church operating in countries that have far fewer individual rights and so the political climate would favor such a new policy. That said, I live in America where individuals are supposedly ruled by self-governance; some states having more than others. You want to exercise more of your Agency, move to Texas; just sayin’.
I believe the right to own and bear arms is a God given right that is not to be infringed upon; not even by the leaders of the Church, as such an infringement dilutes the agency of individuals to make their own choices.
I’d much rather the Church let each individual decide what was the best way to make it through this world, a world that seems to be more and more violent against those who claim to be Christians.
Here’s where it gets a little more interesting, my having been a police officer dealing with those who don’t follow laws, regulations and certainly not Church policies on carrying weapons into church buildings. A friend of mine, an active working police officer, used the term Sheep Dog as he referred to his mentality when attending church meetings. That certainly applies to my own thought process even though I retired from the police department 25 years ago. It’s not like I expect there to be trouble where ever I go, especially not at church. However… when my wife attends Relief Society functions in the middle of the week there are always one of two men assigned to act as building security to protect the sisters.
In reality, what good would these well-intentioned men be against a deranged individual who was armed? They would be the first victims found lying on the floor, outlined in chalk for the news media to photograph.
One of the members of our Branch Presidency was going over the “Plan” put in place to protect members of our congregation in the event of an attack. Basically, it included locking the door and advising everyone to run and hide. Jokingly, or not, there was mention of throwing hymn books at the attacker as a last resort. My unspoken response, sarcastically flashed inside my mind, “REALLY, That’s your plan?”
The Church made a big deal out of announcing the newest policy, timed to reflect their concern as Texas Law now permits carrying concealed weapons in churches, effective as of September 1, 2019, something that had been considered taboo for many years.
My first thought was, “Great, now you’ve announced to the world that every meeting house is a Killing-Zone. There won’t be anyone inside who has a gun.” So, if you wanted members to feel safer, the leaders of the Church sure picked an interesting way to comfort those seeking comfort.
I would have preferred the leaders of the Church to have remained silent on this issue; but that’s not what happened. My recourse and only course of direction, being a member in good standing, is to follow and obey the Prophet, even when the instructions run counter to my own desires.
Self-Educated American, Senior Editor, T.F. Stern is both a retired City of Houston police officer and, most recently, a retired self-employed locksmith (after serving that industry for 40 plus years). He is also a gifted political and social commentator. His popular and insightful blog, T.F. Sterns Rantings, has been up and at it since January of 2005.