God and Guns indeed: Kentucky pastor leaves pulpit to push Second Amendment
The Kentucky pastor who drew notice earlier this year for hosting a God-and-guns event at his church is giving up his flock for his Glock.
Pastor Ken Pagano resigned his post last month at the New Bethel Church in Louisville, Ky., after nearly 30 years in the ministry, saying he wants to focus on Second Amendment and church-security issues.
“Thirty years was a good, long run, but it’s time for a change,” Mr. Pagano said in an interview with The Washington Times. “If I can write my own ticket, I want to get involved more in Second Amendment issues as they affect the church, and I can do more from outside the pulpit than from behind it.”
Mr. Pagano gained national attention when his congregation hosted an Open Carry Celebration a week before Independence Day to commemorate the roles of religion and gun ownership in the nation’s founding. About 200 people attended the event, which featured a handgun raffle and firearmsafety information.
Some of them wore their own guns in holsters. Kentucky law allows residents to carry guns openly in public with some restrictions, although gun owners who carry concealed weapons must have permits. The event wasn’t supposed to be a big deal, Mr. Pagano said, but “it really struck a nerve.”
“I would say 90 [percent] to 95 percent of all the correspondence we received was positive, saying, ‘We’re glad somebody’s standing up for this,’ ” Mr. Pagano said. “There were some who said, ‘Oh, it’s a bunch of rednecks.’ ”
Mr. Pagano said he was considering a career change even before the event, but the ripple tack from terrorists and other homegrown, disgruntled individuals,” Mr. Pagano said. “Unfortunately, most religious leaders are living in denial.”
The number of high-profile attacks on churches has spiraled in the past decade. This year’s church violence includes the deadly shooting of a late-term abortion provider in Wichita, Kan., a fatal attack on a pastor ters regularly, but wrestle with the idea of having an armed guard or parishioner within the church during services.
“When you have a church, you have people with the belief that you shouldn’t have a gun in church,” said Mr. Evans, a police officer with a SWAT background. “But sometimes a firearm is the only thing that’s going to stop someone from shooting people.” I’m taking the position that every house of worship or any other high-visibility target should have a person or persons trained in the use of firearms,” the rabbi said.
Such talk exasperates guncontrol advocates, who say that firearms in a crowded environment such as a house of worship has the potential for disaster.
“I’ve got no problems with any institution, whether it’s a business or a church, hiring professional, trained security people who know the risks,” said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “What I do have serious concerns about is the idea that a private individual, just because they’re a gun owner, can be a security guard just by carrying a gun to church.”
As for Mr. Pagano, Mr. Helmke said, “Maybe he should be more concerned about the Fifth Commandment than the Second Amendment.”
What some people don’t realize is that a pastor isn’t a “sanctified sheep,” Mr. Pagano said, but a shepherd, the protector of the flock. That includes the physical safety of the parishioners within the church building.
“People have this idea that Christians have to turn the other cheek,” Mr. Pagano said. “That’s true, but I don’t think there’s anything in the Old or New Testament that requires them to roll over and die if someone attacks them or their family.”
Ken Pagano, former pastor of New Bethel Church in Louisville, Ky., has teamed up with a New York rabbi to form the International Security Coalition of Clergy in an effor t to make “the vulnerable less vulnerable.”
Pastor Ken Pagano gained national attention when his church hosted a gun rally in June.