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June 30th, 2009
10:38 AM ET

Pro-gun pastor says come armed to church

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Pastor Kenneth Pagano is a gun rights advocate who encourages his parishioners to bring their firearms to church."]

You may not think that God and guns go together, but a pastor in Kentucky certainly does. He's encouraging his congregation to embrace their Second Amendment rights by coming to church armed.

On Saturday, Pastor Kenneth Pagano sponsored an “open carry celebration” at his church. He spoke to John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Tuesday.

John Roberts: A question a lot of people might have is – what do God and guns have in common?

Kenneth Pagano: Well, the idea that a deep-seated belief in God and an appreciation for firearms, which was the basis for the founding of this country, which was also settled by very religious people evidently has not - has historical precedence for not being incongruous, and we also agree with the same.

Roberts: But the question is do guns belong in church? Even in the frontier days there were many churches that said to people, “Leave your weapons outside. No firearms inside the church.”

Pagano: There were also many churches that said you can have them. There are still congregational buildings in New England that go back to the colonial eras where there are actually gun racks that are there. It was also mandated that you had to bring your firearm with you with ammunition when you went to church, if not, you would have been fined. So this is not something new. It’s new in our generation, but it's not a new concept at all. We're trying to promote responsible gun ownership, that there are community-minded, legal law-abiding citizens such as myself and others who appreciate firearms as a sports tool, but also believe in the right for self-defense and self-protection. Church is not a building. A church is a gathering of people. People have the right to defend themselves wherever they are.

Roberts: Pastor, I was doing a lot of looking around this morning at the reaction to the event you had on Saturday night and some of the critics were asking things like “Would Jesus carry a weapon?” And “What would Jesus think of a pastor who beat plow shares into swords?”

Pagano: Well, here’s the thing. Because of my theological perception, I believe one day Christ will return to establish his government here on his earth and at that time we will beat our swords into plow shares. But until then, those who only have plow shares will always be subjected to those who have the swords. What would Jesus carry? You know that’s kind of a tongue and cheek thing. We do know this. We do know that his disciples who were his close entourage, we do know that there were at least two in the bunch that were carrying swords. He wasn't opposed to them carrying swords. Matter of fact, there was a time he told them to sell a cloak and buy a sword. What he was opposed to was the inappropriate use of the sword, which was to keep him from going to the cross to die for the sins of the world.

Roberts: You're kind of getting it from all sides. You have the critics, again, who say “Would Jesus have carried a weapon,” but you’ve got critics among gun advocates who say the fact that you stipulated that people had to bring their weapons into church unloaded and the only loaded weapon belonged to a police officer kind of rankles them. David Codrea, who is a gun rights advocate, wrote in “The idea that police are the only ones who can be entrusted with loaded firearms should be offensive to everyone who believes in the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” Everybody's kind of ganging up on you from the right and left.

Pagano: Here's the thing, the truth shall set you free. And if people knew the truth of what was going on, the open carry celebration, the reason for open carry was mainly insurance reasons. I'm a firearms instructor, I work with the police, I'm a competitive sports shooter. Not everyone who owns a firearm is necessarily always responsible or safe with them. I didn't know everybody who came to the celebration. There were people who were carrying loaded firearms who were not law enforcement. There were people who were legally carrying concealed weapons that were hot and ready to go. We don't have a problem with that. Just because a person owns a firearm, doesn't means they're safe and responsible anymore than a person who owns a vehicle means they're a safe and responsible driver.

Roberts: There's also the bigger issue too of guns in church, just generally. There have been several high-profile shootings in churches recently. One of the attendees to your open carry celebration on Saturday, Tommy Hillerich, told the New York Times “If the pastor is in there and he's got a concealed weapon and somebody comes in and starts shooting people, he can take him out. That's his right.” Do you think it would be a good idea for pastors to carry weapons?

Pagano: Absolutely. They're shepherds. When a person comes into my congregation, they are my responsibility, not only spiritually but physically. Jesus called himself the great shepherd and according to the 23rd Psalm the shepherd has a staff for direction and a rod for protection.

Roberts: So Pastor, do you carry a concealed weapon on Sundays?

Pagano: I couldn't tell you that because that would totally negate the idea of carrying a concealed. You’d leave me at a tactical disadvantage. Contact a Gary Moskowitz there in New York City who is a rabbi who is promoting a national security council of religious leaders wanting to see this very type of legislation. Listen, I've gotten phone calls from people from Israel and other parts of the world and they're saying, “You know what? We've been trying to say this all along.” Our military personnel have to attend chapel services with their firearms. While we are in a civilized world, we have a lot of uncivilized people and America's no different.

Filed under: Gun rights • Religion
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Barbara

    I Believe that now and always that Jesus Christ is my only Protector and Protection in the World today.

    July 18, 2009 at 5:57 pm |
  2. Jared

    Being a country bumpkin christian is great! You gets all the pain, shame and blame, without really any of the gain!?

    July 3, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  3. Armed Geek in Texas


    On what planet are the events you describe happening? It sure isn't Earth. People carry guns to church (concealed) all over the U.S. Legally. Every week. NOT ONE of them has "gone postal". In fact, recently a woman in Boulder stopped a crazed gunman in the hallway of her church after he had butchered 3 ppl in the parking lot and was on his way to the sanctuary.

    The people that go to a mall, or school, or church to kill someone are already going to break a law – the one against murder. Do you really think one more ordinance against bringing a gun will stop them?

    If Concealed Handgun Licensees were "snapping" and shooting up churches, or bars, or malls the press would be screaming out the news in 3" type. But they aren't, because it simply DOSE NOT HAPPEN.

    Get a freakin' grip.

    July 1, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  4. Chamorrita, MD

    You know what? It's people like this Pastor who have really LOST their freaking minds!!!

    Bringing guns to a church is just STUPID beyond words. This Pastor will rue the day when one idiot brings a gun and shots up everyone in his church. THEN what will this ignorant Pastor say? WHAT?

    People need to really THINK these insane ideas out before going public. We have ENOUGH innocent people dying every day by folks who brought guns to churches, schools, workplace and shopping malls.

    WHY on earth would you want guns brought o church? WHY?

    You know what, many of our religious leaders have really gone bonkers.


    July 1, 2009 at 9:55 am |
  5. Tom Furiku-sho

    oops.....I meant to say, "I haven't killed anyone or commited armed robbery....."

    Sorry for the typo.

    June 30, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  6. Tom Furiku-sho

    I believe he has a good idea. If every citizen carried a firearm, criminals would hesitate to act impulsively. There is a reason that the second amendment exists. Not just self protection but to protect the country from tyranical governmental rule.

    Anti-firearm crusaders are wishing to create an idealistic world where firearms, weapons and hatred do not exist. It is a nice thought but unfortunately human nature does not lend itself to the perfect Ideal of such thoughts. Otherwise I would join that crusade.

    I grew up with guns in the house and learned how to respect them and use them. I haved killed anyone or commited armed robbery.

    When the government disarms its people, what then are that government's intentions? History says, "Not good........"

    June 30, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  7. Protect Yourself

    Do what U got 2 Do

    June 30, 2009 at 1:42 pm |
  8. Dustin

    "Jesus would have NOTHING to do with..."

    Well, Jesus ate dinner with sinners and tax collectors...

    You don't have a clue I pray you'll find one.

    June 30, 2009 at 1:40 pm |
  9. Alfredo Fettuccini

    As a good Conservative, I know that the Constitution means what the founding fathers meant when they wrote it.

    When they wrote in 1789 that the "right to bear arms should not be abridged," they clearly and obviously meant that citizens who belong to a state militia should be allowed to purchase and carry muzzle loading, single-shot, powder and ball muskets and pistols, as well as a personal sword and perhaps a bayonet. It is as clear as a bell.

    These socialist Constitution twisters would have you believe that the founders meant the citizens should have the right to carry modern revolvers and rifles, but that is just more of their communistic nonsense, probably sponsored by gun manufacturers.

    Let the judges enforce the law as it was written.

    June 30, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  10. Terry

    Matthew 26:52 – Those who use the sword will die by the sword.

    Christians like this fellow can cherry-pick verses out of their Bibles and make Jesus say anything they want. That is why Christianity has changed so much over the centuries. This pastor would certainly not be at home in the Church of 500AD, 1000AD, in a Puritan congregation in colonial America, or in a Catholic Church in modern America.

    Christianity is not one faith, it is a hundred faiths divided into a thousand sects, cults, social clubs, and organizations. They don't believe the same things, but they do call their four gods by the same names (Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and Satan) – which gives them a superficial appearance of sameness. Christianity has caused a lot of good and a lot of harm to come to the world. This fellow is part of the harmful breed of Christians – the Fundamentalists – each of whom imagines that God speaks to him. Like all fundamentalists, they seek to convert or destroy those who disagree with them on theological details.

    June 30, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  11. Greg

    history repeats June 30th, 2009 1:00 pm ET

    hahahah jesus christ would have NOTHING to do with these people if he was around. how could these people use a rational mind and think their way of thinking is in the same light as jesus christ. my god people are just plain ignant’!!!!

    Re-read your bible, and take a look at who Jesus hung out with... I have a funny feeling that people attending church lawfully carrying a firearm are not worse (nor are they better, for that matter) then the prostitutes, adulterers, and tax collectors that Jesus spent time with.

    In fact the group that Jesus tended to avoid the most was the legalistic Pharisees who judged and condemned people who did unorthodox things.

    June 30, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  12. William

    God crazies....gun crazies......all just plain old crazy.

    June 30, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  13. history repeats

    the funny thing is america is the only country crying to hold onto their guns and it also has the highest murder rate from guns in the civilized world. do you not think that is related at all? look at the stats! why would jesus carry a gun or a sword if his philosophy was "its all gods plan" if what happens is supposed to happen anyway where is your faith in god!? why do you have to protect yourself so much ESPECIALLY if you believe you are going to eternal paradise next to your beloved jesus?!!??! does this make any sense at all!??! NO!!!!

    June 30, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  14. history repeats

    hahahah jesus christ would have NOTHING to do with these people if he was around. how could these people use a rational mind and think their way of thinking is in the same light as jesus christ. my god people are just plain ignant'!!!!

    June 30, 2009 at 1:00 pm |
  15. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    nancy June 30th, 2009 11:10 am ET

    My kinda church!!

    Exactly! Why don't more do that!

    NV is an open carry state which means you can openly carry your gun almost anywhere and no problem (Concealed requires a permit) , unlike a lot of states, especially CA

    June 30, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  16. quaniesan

    Its ur kind of church? good for you. I also advise you should consider to invest in a good bulletproof vest to wear when you go to that "your kinda church". It is a good investment. Trust me.

    Pagano is also a firearm teacher? that explains alot of his pro-gun stand. more students Yay!!!

    June 30, 2009 at 12:29 pm |
  17. nancy

    My kinda church!! 🙂

    June 30, 2009 at 11:10 am |