Kansas bishops issue pastoral directive banning firearms in churches

June 21, 2016

[Episcopal Diocese of Kansas] Episcopal Diocese of Kansas Bishop Dean Wolfe and Episcopal Diocese of Western Kansas Bishop Michael Milliken June 20 issued a pastoral directive banning firearms from Episcopal churches in the state, effective Aug. 1, unless they are carried by designated law enforcement officials in the line of duty.

In a letter sent to all churches, the bishops said changes to state law in recent years “has led to permission being given to carry firearms, openly or concealed, into churches and other houses of worship. These changes reverse long-standing law and practice regarding firearms in our state.”

The bishops concluded that the changes allowing anyone to bring guns into a church “unnecessarily endanger the citizens of our state and the members of our parishes.”

They took this action through a provision in state gun laws that allows them as ecclesiastical authorities to prohibit firearms in their jurisdiction, so long as the required signage is in place to notify the public.

Each bishop made available a quantity of the sign that is required by the Kansas Attorney General, operating under state law, to be posted on all public and non-public entrances to church facilities. It features a black handgun surrounded by a red circle, with a red line through it.

The bishops’ statement said that while the directive was designed to meet the requirements of state law, they hoped it served a greater purpose. “…we hope all the more it will serve as a testament to the promised future reign of Christ in which ‘no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love.’”

A copy of the joint pastoral directive from Wolfe and Milliken is available here.