Pistols in the pews make some feel more secure, but others are leery.

Finalist (part of three-story portfolio), Magazine News Religion Reporting, Religion News Association

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

At many Churches of Christ across the nation, Christians bring more than their swords — as some refer to their Bibles — to Sunday worship.

An untold number also carry concealed handguns into the assembly, church leaders told The Christian Chronicle.

As mass shootings make all-too-frequent headlines in America, some see pistol-packing church members — and even preachers — as protection, the Chronicle found in interviews with dozens of ministers, elders and deacons in 15 states.

“I do not believe that Jesus — or even the old law — taught members to cower in the face of danger,” said Chris Gallagher, minister for the Gadsden Church of Christ in Alabama. “It was Jesus who told his apostles to take a sword in Luke 22.

“A gunman coming into our services to cause harm to men, women and children through his evil desires should be stopped,” added Gallagher, noting that he usually locks his own Ruger .380 pistol in his office when he preaches. “Shall we let the evil of one man injure and harm a collection of God’s people?”

Four months ago, a gunman opened fire at a Wednesday night Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., and killed nine people before fleeing unharmed. Dylann Storm Roof, 21, was arrested the next day in North Carolina.

Read the full story.

Related stories:

• Christian universities review crisis plans after Oregon rampage 

• Abduction makes Arizona church secretary more cautious

• ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Christian universities debate allowing firearms on campus 

These stories appear online and/or in the November 2015 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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