June 5, 2009

Church’s gun gala shoots blanks for some

A Louisville church's plan for a gun celebration and handgun raffle stuns ministers who say the church's actions are counter to religion's pacifist stance.

New Bethel Church Pastor Ken Pagano says the service and raffle June 27 would celebrate Independence Day and constitutional rights, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported Friday.

There is a catch -- firearms must be unloaded and in a secure holster. But the idea of a house of peace sponsoring an event celebrating gun ownership and includes presentations by gun-related businesses stretches credulity, ministers say.

We know people have a right to carry their guns, said the Rev. James Tennyson, director of the Justice Resource Center, a sponsor of gun buyback programs. But it's something else when you allow guns to come into the church, he said.

The raffle is beyond belief, Tennyson told the Courier-Journal. We're trying to take guns off the streets, and he's trying to put guns back on the streets.

Pagano said he agrees with the goal of gun buybacks, but he also supports legal, responsible gun ownership.

Pagano said he also supports Tennyson's right to express his opinion -- but I disagree with it.