Church-based gun banner chides pastor to stop teaching on the subject of self-defense and the Bible
By Chad D. Baus
Over the past several years, I've been monitoring the statements the non-profit Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence is required to file with the Internal Revenue Service.
In 2005, I exposed the fact that OCAGV kept office space in the basement of the Collingwood Presbyterian Church in Toledo (space for which the organization was being charged bargain price of $270 per month). I exposed the incestuous ties of OCAGV and Toledo Metropolitan Ministries, (Toledo Ecumenical Area Ministries). TMM-TEAM described itself as "a social justice ministry of seven denominations working ecumenically to identify needs for systemic changes, to plan and develop strategies and initiate projects to advocate justice and empower people." The organization worked out of the exact same basement as OCAGV, and Toby Hoover and other OCAGV board members have at the same time been on the Board of TMM-TEAM.
What's more, OCAGV's website states that it began in 1995 as a committee of the Interracial Religious Coalition of Toledo, Ohio. And in 2008, the OCAGV had at least three members of the clergy on its board of directors.
The evidence proves that OGACV Executive Director Toby Hoover has no qualms about mixing religion and political advocacy, at least when it comes to arguing against the right to bear arms for self-defense.
But when a Toledo pastor announces that his church will hold a forum to address such topics as "whether the Old Testament and New Testament teach people that they have the right to keep and bear arms, what Jesus says about bearing arms, and whether American citizens would be safer being disarmed," Hoover now not only objects to the mixing of religion and politics, but purports to tell this pastor what he may and may not say inside the four walls of his church!
From the Toledo's CBS affiliate, WTOL 11:
A rally will be held Monday, June 29 in west Toledo in support of the right to bear arms.
Sponsors say they are worried about the Obama administration's view on gun control, even though there's been no new restrictions.
The rally will point to numerous biblical references claiming Jesus Christ would support second amendment rights.
"We're just informing our folks you got to be able to protect yourself and what does the Bible have to say about it. We know our constitution. But this is the final authority here above our Constitution is the word of God," said Reverend Andrew Edwards with the Northwest Baptist Church.
The rally begins tonight at 7:00 at the Northwest Baptist Church at 3906 W. Alexis Road. Anyone is welcome to attend.
The event comes on the heels of similar discussions or events at churches in Kentucky, California and elsewhere.
Just two days after the event, Toby Hoover, who often appears to be a one-woman show at the OCAGV, issued a press release accusing the pastor of "falsely claiming that the Bible and Jesus Christ support Christians arming themselves with deadly firearms."
The press release continues:
"It is an embarrassment to people of faith that pray for peace and non-violence to have these people use a house of worship to encourage the ownership and defend the use of weapons."
"Firearms are not sacred relics of worship. They are tools of violence - lethal products designed to kill and injure human beings, to destroy lives, and cause terror in our communities."
"Guns allow a person to decide who lives and who dies.
If there had been a "Jerusalem Coalition Against Sword Violence", I suspect the press release issued in response to Jesus' instruction would have read alot like this OCAGV press release. In fact, one could likely have to do little more than substitute the word "sword" - the sidearm of Jesus' day, which he clearly advocated carrying - with "firearm" or "gun", the sidearm of today.
Let us step back in time for a moment, some 2000 years ago. As He was instructing His disciples on how to prepare for the aftermath of His crucifixion, the physician known as Luke quotes Jesus as saying "...Take your money and a traveler's bag. And if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: 'He was counted among the rebels.' Yes, everything written about me by the prophets will come true."
The disciples respond, saying "Look, Lord, we have two swords among us." Jesus' reply? "That's enough."
This instruction by Jesus was discussed at length in a handout distributed at the rally:
And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Matt 26:50-52
Reading Matthew 26 in context one would understand the reason Christ told Peter to put his sword in his place was Peter was getting in the way of the Cross. According to John 12 & Matthew 16 Christ already informed His Disciples that He was going to suffer and die. He came to lay down His life for ours. Without His Blood shed on the Cross there would be no Salvation for man. Peter meant well, but he was standing in the way of the Cross.
Note: Christ did not tell Peter to surrender his sword, nor to register his sword, but to put his sword into his place… on Peter’s side.
One day Christ is returning with a Sword to destroy during the battle of Armageddon, Revelation 19.
Hoover's tirade continues:
"It is absolutely immoral to suggest that the Bible supports violence. We need to reduce gun violence, not use fear to divide and distract us to the suffering caused by our gun culture."
"Immoral to suggest that the Bible supports violence?" One wonders if Hoover has spent any time reading the Old Testament, particularly when God helped his chosen people invade the land God had promised them. (Hint: There was a LOT of violence)
But the real tragedy is that Hoover believes the mere possession of a firearm is an endorsement of immoral violence. In the context of law-abiding citizens carrying concealed firearms, it is, rather, an attempt to maintain the peace, and to prevent violence from being acted out against one's self or loved ones.
"The gun lobby and gun industry like to disguise their radical and extremist agenda by hiding behind the flag, and now the Bible. People's lives and safety should matter more than a radical and violent ideology purported by the gun lobby."
The desire to protect ones' homeland from attack and ones' family from harm is neither radical nor extreme. Protecting the lives of innocent people, and keeping them safe, is exactly the ideology we ascribe to.
"The Northwest Baptist Church's gun rally is an insult to all faiths, religions, and the human community to which we all belong. We call on all members of the faith community to speak out about this dangerous agenda. It is absolutely vital that we not allow the gun lobby to hijack our sacred spaces of worship as they have done to our public places. Our families and children are less safe because of the proliferation of deadly and loaded guns being carried in public, both openly and concealed."
"We need to honor our values by reducing the access to these tools of violence and not promote weapons and fear if we are ever to reclaim a peaceful and just society."
Hoover's claim that "all faiths" have been insulted by the instruction provided at this rally is simply ignorant. Not all faiths promote pacifism or the belief that reclaiming a peaceful utopia is possible this side of heaven, and Hoover's attempt to assert that every person of faith believes as she does is ridiculous.
Indeed, given the growing numbers of churches that are becoming vocal about their security plans, which often include legally armed congregants, I'm not sure how well Hoover's call to "all members of the faith community" is going to be received. And, as usual, Hoover offers no proof (because there is none) of her claim that "our families and children are less safe because of the proliferation of deadly and loaded guns being carried in public."
Finally, as for her comment on "the proliferation of deadly and loaded guns being carried in public, both openly and concealed," Hoover seems to have forgotten how she and other gun banners used to advocate for open carry as an alternative to passing a concealed carry law.
Pastor Edwards and his church received a considerable amount of local press for the event, including an article in the religious section of the Toledo Blade, prime time news coverage from Toledo's CBS and FOX affiliates, talk radio interviews and news coverage on WSPD (1370 AM) Toledo and NRANews.com.
As one might expect, not all of the coverage was accurate, or objective. In a phone conversation last week, Edwards told me one Toledo news station promoted the event as a "bring your guns to church" event, despite his press release saying nothing of the kind.
Instead, the press release posed a few simple questions which were to be discussed at the event:
- Does the Christian Have the Right to Keep and Bear Arms?
- Does the Old Testament & New Testament teach the people of God that they have a right to keep and bear arms?
- What does Jesus say about bearing arms?
- Is there a conflict between being a Patriot and being a Christian?
- Would American Citizens be safer being disarmed?
The rally featured Pastor and Evangelist Dr. Bryan Sharp, described as a bible scholar with 35 years experience as a preacher and professor at several Christian colleges, as well as a patriot and lifetime member of NRA.
A handout provided at the rally included citations of the First and Second Amendments from the Bill of Rights, quotes from our Founding Fathers on the importance of the individual right to keep and bear arms, and quotes and evidences from current President Barack Obama that prove his desire to restrict that right.
The handout also provided a wealth of evidences of the support for bearing arms self-defense in the Scriptures, including:
- Abram arming his trained servants in Genesis 14.
- Moses' instruction in Numbers 32 that the tribes of Reuben and Gad would be sinnind if they did not keep their word by taking up arms in the invasion of the land God had promised His people.
- Armed men marching in the presence of the Lord in Joshua 6.
- 2 Samuel 22:35, Psalms 18:34 and Psalms 144:1-2 on how the Lord blesses his people with the strength and skill to fight.
- Proof in Exodus 22 that God does not consider killing a home invader to be murder.
- Jesus' instruction as recorded by Luke for his followers to purchase sidearms and make other preparations for his departure.
Pastor Edwards told me he had a good crowd for the rally, but true to his calling as a minister of God's word, he was most proud of the fact "seven men received Christ as their Saviour."
Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman, and a Christian in continual need of God's amazing grace.
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