The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints created a new policy barring parishioners from legally carrying a firearm during services. After receiving pushback, the church was forced to "clarify" their position. Instead of sticking solely with firearms, the church says no "lethal weapons" are allowed on the property.
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.
The policy comes after a new firearm law went into effect in Texas. The law makes it clear those who are concealed handgun licensees may carry a firearm in houses of worship.
According to Matthew Bowman, an associate professor of history and religion and Howard W. Hunter Chair in Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University, this policy change took place for two reasons: 1) the rise of "gun violence" across America has forced the church to address the issue and 2) this is "the church’s attempt to adapt to being a more global religion, representative of cultures other than the American West that is steeped in hunting and guns."
“It is illustrative of the church’s slow evolution away from being a largely Western rural church, which it has been for a long, long time, toward a more cosmopolitan, international organization,” Bowman told the Associated Press.
Americans have frequently discussed arming parishioners in houses of worship after the shootings at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas; Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina; and Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.
As gunmen target houses of worship, gun rights activists and groups have encouraged churchgoers to take their safety into their own hands. The idea is simple: if a would-be attacker attempted to target a congregation, at least one person (hopefully more) would be armed and willing to take on a gunman.
The Mormon Church did their churchgoers a true disservice by making the announcement. They have effectively told gunmen, "We are a gun-free zone. Please, target us." It's just like the stupid signs that exist on school campuses. Attackers are more to target those who can't fight back than those who may fight back.