Bringing new meaning to the term "wearing your Sunday best," a pastor in Kentucky encouraged his parishioners to strap a holster to their church clothes yesterday so they could proudly display their weapons.
Pastor Ken Pagano of the New Bethel Church in Louisville declared Saturday -- June 27 -- as "Open Carry Celebration" day, to promote responsible gun ownership. Pagano told ABCNews.com:
"As a Christian pastor I believe that without a deep-seeded belief in God and firearms that this country would not be here. I'm not ashamed of that fact. I'm proud of it."
Pagano defended the celebration, saying the congregation voted in favor of it. There were videos with information about gun safety, patriotic music celebrating the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, as well as a raffle for a brand new handgun.
Others though,?were not thrilled. Arkansas pastor John Phillips, who was shot inside his church while leading a service in 1986, said a church is no place for guns:
"A church is designated as a safe haven, it's a place of worship. It is unconscionable to me to think that a church would be a place that you would even want to bring a weapon."
That thought is echoed by Paul Helmke, who is the President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence:
"Christ tells us to put down the sword and this pastor seems to be encouraging them to take up the sword... If pastor Pagano was doing things to push for background checks on sales and to put restrictions on the types of guns that can be sold to the public, then I'd salute him."
The special day came after abortion doctor George Tiller was gunned down inside a church in Kansas. Pagano said his celebration was planned months before the killing. He says the Tiller murder will contrast with what he is trying to accomplish:
"Firearms can be evil and they can be useful. We're just trying to promote responsible gun ownership and gun safety