by: Richard Elliot Updated:
ATLANTA - A coalition of concerned clergy still opposes the newest proposed version of a controversial gun bill, even though the bill changes the wording to keep weapons out of houses of worship that don't want them.
Under state Rep. Alan Powell's original version, guns would be allowed in houses of worship, but it also allowed those individual congregations to ban them if they wished. The new version keeps guns out of houses of worship, but allows individual congregations to allow them if they wished.
That’s still not good enough said Rev. David Bartlett of Atlanta's Trinty Presbyterian Church.
"Throughout history, places of worship have been sanctuaries, safe places where we come to worship the God of peace," said Bartlett. "To bring guns into our sanctuaries is not only bad policy, it is blasphemy."
Bartlett and other clergy members gathered at Central Presbyterian Church across from the state Capitol to voice their concerns.
"We as clergy believe houses of worship are not places where guns belong," said Rabbi Loren Lapidus, of The Temple. "It is not a sanctuary when the first thing they see on our door is 'No Guns Allowed.'"
Powell believes gun bill critics are missing the point of his legislation. He said it's not about carrying guns in churches or on college campuses; he said the bill is about the protection of individual private property rights.
"They think that we're putting guns in churches," said Powell. "We're not putting guns in churches. That's up for the individual churches to make that decision. The bottom line of what we're trying to do is, if it's private property, that's your right. That's not for the government to meddle with or in any way to tell you what to do."
The bill passed the House and must now pass the Senate.