The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially announced that firearms are no longer welcome on its property. No more going to church strapped.
There are some exceptions. Off-duty cops, church security personnel, and perhaps one or two of the Brethren are still permitted to.
I’m not kidding. Ours is a church that began with a vision, but didn’t really get going until a gunfight. More on that in a minute.
I carried a gun to church when I was a cop. Not all the time, but often enough that I got used to it. The bishop knew I carried. One day he told me that it was reassuring to have someone who could respond to a threat if needed.
Him • “If something bad happens, I know you’ll take care of us.”
Me • “Sure.”
Inwardly, I groaned. That’s just great. Home teaching, Fast Sundays, Elder’s Quorum, service projects, moving furniture, going to the temple, Family Home Evenings, teaching Sunday school … and now they might need me to shoot somebody. Hell, they’d probably assign me to help clean up the mess.
It seemed excessive, but I couldn’t very well decline. What if the imagined bad guy was intent on hurting someone at church who I actually cared about — my kids, my wife, half a dozen other people? Me?
The problem was solved when I quit law enforcement. I was no longer responsible for the safety of the congregation. Now it was just my family I felt obligated to protect. So I just carried a smaller gun.
The church’s position on banning guns from its property has caused a furor among those who believe in their God-given rights under the Second Amendment.
“What kind of church tries to disarm its membership?”
“I can’t follow a prophet who says Heavenly Father wants me to be defenseless.”
“What if Satan shows up and tries to partake of the Sacrament?”
This is nothing new. Church policies are always getting on someone’s nerves. My uncle was so racist that he stopped going to church when blacks got the priesthood. Policies on gays aren’t strict enough for others.
As near as I can determine, the first Mormon to carry a gun in a location where firearms were strictly banned was Joseph Smith.
Locked up in the Carthage jail, he was legitimately concerned about his safety. So a friend smuggled a pistol to him.
If there’s anyplace where it’s clearly understood that firearms should be forbidden, it’s probably jail. But Joseph Smith defied the rules and had one anyway. The threat against him was not idle speculation. There were people who actually wanted him dead.
Fat lot of good it did him. He used the pistol to defend himself for about half a minute until he got killed, which is what usually happens when 200 people with bigger guns want you dead.
After the smoke cleared and Brigham Young took over, the church boomed and moved to Utah.
Look, there’s an easy way to handle this threat against your freedoms under the Second Amendment. Do what you (and everyone else) does when it comes to church advice, counsel, policy and commandments that are disagreeable.
Pretend they don’t apply to you.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.