Preaching guns from the pulpit

Christian pacifists tell us that God and guns don’t mix. They tell us that violence is not the answer to the dangers of society, and that we must simply arm ourselves with the Lord. After all—they say—Jesus himself told the apostle Peter that “all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52)

But while these folks are busy holding hands and singing “We Are the World,” a courageous Catholic priest from Michigan is preaching a different message. In response to recent crimes in the area, Father Edward Fride, or “Fr. Ed,” has boldly encouraged his Ann Arbor parishioners to arm themselves.

Not only that—he was even hosting concealed pistol license (CPL) classes at his parish to add substance to his words.

As one can imagine, Fr. Ed received a strong knee-jerk reaction from some of his parishioners, but the priest has stood by his guns and refused to backtrack on his words. In a letter to his parishioners entitled “We’re Not in Mayberry Anymore, Toto!,” Fr. Ed defended his statement about gun ownership and his rationale for holding a CPL class.

“Pretending we are in Mayberry, while we are clearly not, can have very negative consequences for ourselves and those we love, especially those we have a responsibility to protect,” he notes in the letter.

Fr. Ed goes on to cite the chief of police of the nearby city of Detroit, who publicly encouraged the law-abiding citizens of Detroit to arm themselves for their protection and the protection of their homes. He also describes how a police officer from a suburb of Detroit told him that “because more Detroiters are protecting themselves, more of the criminals are now targeting the suburbs.” With crime expanding to suburban areas, this shepherd is logically concerned for his flock, and is urging them to defend their families and their neighbors.

His letter blasts the naïve belief among Christians today that God will simply protect members of His Church from violence.

As he mentions, this argument is flawed because it “requires us to believe that none of the kids killed at Columbine, or Sandy Hook, or Virginia Tech, or the adults at Aurora were Christians.” The sad truth is that bad things often happen to God-fearing people. Practicing Christians live in a world that contradicts their values and beliefs, but that does not mean that they must succumb to that evil.

Those who read the Gospel know that when Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days, he refused to tempt his Father in Heaven, saying, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Matthew 4:7) How is this any different? Yes, as Christians, we must trust in the Lord for protection, but does that mean we should ignore the incredible gift that He has given us to use for this purpose? Just like any gift, it can be abused, but that doesn’t make it intrinsically evil.

Speaking from his personal conversion experience as a former conscientious objector in the Vietnam War, Fr. Ed condemns pacifist absolutism as individualistic. He notes: “[A]s I studied Catholic moral teaching more, I realized that if I made a choice like that, I was not only making it for myself, but for all those who might have a reasonable call on me for their protection.”

In other words, we have an obligation to defend our “neighbor,” particularly our children, from those who threaten harm. This is not a choice, but rather a duty. As Fr. Ed points out, “kids have an absolute right to expect their parents’ protection.” How can we say that we “love our neighbor” if we aren’t willing to defend our own children with adequate force?

Ask yourself: Would you not feel some sense of guilt if your son or daughter was being attacked and you had no way to successfully fight back against the attacker?

Under pressure from the diocese, Fr. Ed has discontinued the CPL classes, but he hasn’t retracted any of his strong words about gun ownership. Hopefully, more religious leaders will preach the truth about guns from the pulpit and continue to expose the false sense of security behind gun control.

As Fr. Ed wisely observes: “The threat is real, fear is a choice. If we are adequately protected, fear need not be the reality.”

Can I get an amen?

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of

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