February 6, 2013
passion play at Shrine of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church
These weapons, used in a passion play at Shrine of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in 2012, are all very outdated. (Ricky Carioti / Washington Post)

Maybe they were worried that people were not praying hard enough.

In Arkansas, CNN reports, a measure permitting concealed carry of guns in churches has passed the state House of Representatives, and it seems likely to become law. The revision to the statute declares a state of emergency and notes that “a person should be allowed to carry a firearm in a church that permits the carrying of a firearm for personal security.”

This seems about right. If I have one complaint when I go to church, it is that it is not nearly enough like the Wild West. You’d better keep that sermon under 10 minutes. “Please do not shoot the piano player,” read Oscar Wilde’s favorite sign in a Western saloon. “He is doing his best.” No doubt some variant of this will be required.

In fact, I can think of some other changes that need to be made to the churches to accommodate the guns. “Thou shalt not kill” should go. Replace it with “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Just as catchy, and more relevant to the situation at hand.

“I came not to bring peace, but a sword” is so pre-Smith & Wesson. Surely we can do better.

What’s all this about beating swords into ploughshares? Why not beat them into more efficient armaments? Really the only thing that is tolerable are certain more militant swaths of the Old Testament and the hymns.  “A mighty fortress is our God”! “Onward, Christian soldiers”! That’s more like it.

What would Jesus pack?, as one commenter on the story quipped.

Let’s replace this New Testament Jesus fellow, who keeps going on about loving your neighbor and seems disinclined to self-defense, with someone more sensible and better armed. Jesus clearly does not understand that we are living in a state of emergency. “Put up your sword back into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword”? But what about the Second Amendment?

Still, if this is because of a state of emergency, I hope we can see an end to this emergency.

I ask this only in the interest of keeping satire alive, which is unlikely if we have to watch too many groups of people who are bristling with armaments sit quietly and listening to passages about turning the other cheek. Nothing says “Love your neighbor as yourself” like “Why yes, that is my lethal holstered weapon digging into your knee as we share a hymnal to sing ‘Amazing Grace.’ ”

Look, this is not the only such law in America. And it is limited to churches that want to allow concealed weapons. But to the extent that we continue to view churches as at all holy places, vitally and meaningfully different than others, this seems out of keeping. Is this really the world we want to live in, where we are not just fearing the worst but expecting it, all the time? To me, at least, that misses the point.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.