‘If I don’t protect my people, I’m being complicit,’ says pastor
A Pentecostal church in Central New York state is issuing a stern warning to would-be mass murderers in the wake of the Texas massacre: not in our house.
The letter board outside the Lighthouse Church in Mexico, New York, now displays a message that reads, “We say it again – We are not a gun-free zone.”
Pastor Ronald Russell tells Spectrum News he’d rather his congregation have the ability to protect themselves should an event play out like the one at a Sutherland Springs, Texas, church where a gunman left 26 people dead and 20 injured.
“Times are changing,” Russell told Spectrum. “It’s not the congregation, per se, but the leadership. People say, ‘Well, pastor, you’re talking about killing some,’ and I say, ‘Well, if I don’t protect my people, I’m being complicit.’ A shooting here, that’s not going to happen.”
The church’s website also features a scrolling message stating, “We are not a ‘Gun free zone’ – we protect our people!” alerting visitors that members of the congregation may be armed.
Spectrum reports the church decided to allow firearms following the 2015 shooting at a Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, South Carolina, that left nine dead.
The debate over security at places of worship has gone into overdrive since the Texas shooting, with many churches across the nation now looking at various security measures that will help deter criminals, including allowing parishioners to carry firearms.