By Seth McKelvey
Does the state of Georgia trust bar owners and patrons more than it trusts ministers and church-goers? That's one way to read the fact that Georgia allows bars to set their own rules about allowing licensed gun owners to bring in firearms while churches are forbidden from doing the same thing. As Greg Bluestein of The Associated Press reports, the gun rights organization GeorgiaCarry.org is now challenging that gun ban at the federal 11th Circuit Court of Appeals:
If Thursday's arguments are any indication, the challengers are facing a tough fight. All three judges on the panel raised technical legal concerns about the lawsuit targeting the 2010 law that banned people from carrying weapons into houses of worship....
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the Baptist Tabernacle of Thomaston, where the Rev. Jonathan Wilkins said he wanted to have a gun for protection while working in the church office. The judge also questioned how banning firearms in a place of worship violates religious freedoms.
At one point, Circuit Judge Ed Carnes questioned whether there's any passage in the Bible that allows guns in churches. Did any challenger, he wondered, argue: "Thou shalt have the right to bring a gun to church?"
Bradley Schmeling, pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church in Atlanta, told the Associated Press he thinks guns should not be allowed in churches, mosques, and synogogues, which he said should be "places of peace." Should the state of Georgia be allowed to force others, including Rev. Wilkins, to share Schmeling's view?