From My Cold, Dead Hands?

January 28, 2004 | 12 comments
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Some discussion has come up in recent threads over how members are to reconcile church teachings with political beliefs. To date, the political beliefs examined have been largely liberal ideas which are seen by at least some as conflicting with church values.

However, the church also takes positions that may be seen as counter to conservative ideas. One recent example is the church’s decision to prohibit members from bringing guns into church, even where the members are licensed concealed-carry permit holder. (See the BYU article about the policy, link via the Pollyanic Steve Evans). What is a strongly pro-Second Amendment, gun-rights church member (there are quite a few such members) to think of that policy?

For example, as the article points out, a church member may believe he needs his gun for protection going to and from church. He may believe that it is best for a law-abiding, gun-possessing member to be present in services to prevent criminals from harming members.

And for that matter, he may be a strong second amendment proponent, and see any rolling back of gun rights as a negative event. In the worst case scenario, this missive could be the start of a move by the church in favor of gun restrictions. What would church members think if church leaders instructed them not to own or use handguns, period?

What should our hypothetical figure do? Should he vocally protest the church decision? Quietly tell his bishop he thinks it’s a bad idea? Keep bringing his gun to church anyway? (Will certain bishops and stake presidents give tacit approval of violating the new rule?) Or should he keep his mouth shut, put his concerns to one side, and follow the rule? At the broader level, if (when) members disagree with church leaders, does the proper resolution depend on whether they think church leaders are being too liberal or being too conservative?

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12 Responses to From My Cold, Dead Hands?

  1. lyle on January 28, 2004 at 11:44 am

    Kaimi…great question. Not to change the subject, but there are several such possible conservative ‘conflicts,’ i.e. immigration, the nuclear weapons issue of the 70s (?). I especially like your hypothetical questions…because I dont’ think we’ve actually discussed on T&S about what the ‘correct way(s)’ to deal with political/doctrinal/counseling conflikts is(are).

  2. Steve Evans on January 28, 2004 at 12:13 pm

    Well, I think this situation is pretty clear — there’s no OBLIGATION to carry a firearm, just an ever-lovin’, God-given constitutional right. The Gun Club dude is going to be saddened that our Church has given in to the liberals, but will obey the Church’s new policy.

    Now, the situation where the Church forbids members from having any firearms is a little more problematic, but keep in mind the Church and its policies have always restricted people to a greater level than the law. This isn’t a much different scenario than, say, for the Word of Wisdom. Again, the gun-toting mormon will, most likely, beat his AK-47 into plowshares, or else he will move to Manti and start up his own thang.

    Should he protest the Church’s policy? I guess he could, but our Church doesn’t negotiate much with protesters. Should he say something to his Bishop? Most likely, that too would be ineffectual (and brand him as an apostate). The sad fact is, once this Church takes a position or sets a policy, there isn’t much the members can do about it while still remaining members.

    Until they read something out in Sacrament, I will continue to keep my Baretta M92 in my scripture case, and just wait for the Bishop bring it up during recommend interviews.

  3. Nate Oman on January 28, 2004 at 12:38 pm

    I prefer a Colt to some sissy, European gun ;->

  4. clark goble on January 28, 2004 at 2:11 pm

    It’s an interesting question since I think there is a conflict between the church and conservatives in Utah. It hasn’t attracted as much attention as other issues, but it is there.

    I think if the prophet says don’t bring your gun to church you shouldn’t bring your gun to church. Period.

    I should add an anecdote that I know of one Bishop who was mugged with the tithing money. (In this ward there apparently was a lot of cash, although I believe the church encourages checks now — this was about 15 years ago) He started carrying a gun for depositing the tithing money Sunday nights. He stopped about three different muggings with it.

    As I said, though, I think this is far less of an issue now with most people using checks and night deposits being much easier with drive ups.

  5. Adam Greenwood on January 28, 2004 at 3:19 pm

    Speaking as a right-wing gun nut, I guess I’d have to say that I wish the church hadn’t said anything about guns either way (the issue, I feel, is best left to obscurity) but authorities have their authority and I don’t know all the circumstances that a worldwide church faces. I can and will comply.

    Now, if the church tells it members to stop carrying handguns (which, unlike abortion, they haven’t done) I’d probably do some of the quiet stuff you mention, talking to the bishop, etc.

  6. Jason on January 28, 2004 at 3:29 pm

    Perhaps a new calling is in order: Tithing Marshall

  7. The Wandering Fool. on January 28, 2004 at 3:32 pm

    WWPRD What Would Porter Rockwell Do? I may talk to the Bishop, Write the Prophet, and probly mirmer a bit about it. But in the end what did Porter Rockwell do? He followed the Prophet.

  8. Nate Oman on January 28, 2004 at 3:44 pm

    “What would Porter Rockwell do?”

    I love it! This is definitely going to be a Family Home Evening Lesson in my home…

  9. Adam Greenwood on January 28, 2004 at 3:55 pm

    Is this the lesson on the ‘laying on of hands’?

  10. Jason on January 28, 2004 at 4:13 pm

    Speaking of PR, one of my old BYU band’s names was Porter Rockwell. Here’s a free mp3. Enjoy!

  11. Jason on January 28, 2004 at 4:14 pm

    Preview is my friend… click my name…

  12. Steve Evans on February 2, 2004 at 2:03 pm

    As a follow-up, BYU’s newspaper has printed this extremely piercing comment on the Church’s recent pronouncement…. hilarious!!