Following a Texas church shooting on Sunday, which was stopped when an armed parishioner shot and killed the gunman, some Christians spoke out against the arming of congregations.
Fr. Jeremy Zipple, associate pastor of St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church in Belize City and former executive editor of America Magazine, reacted on Twitter to the deadly shooting Sunday at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas.
And some will say that’s imprudent and foolish and I’ll say, but where are the fools for Christ? And who said the gospel was supposed to be easy?
— Jeremy Zipple (@jzipple) December 31, 2019
Zipple dismissed those who claimed the incident showed why parishioners should be permitted to carry guns at church.
Not even the possible deaths of people in or near the church could justify arming his congregation, Zipple seemed to suggest.
“This Fri we’ll bury a 16-yr-old girl gunned down across street from our church. 3 yrs ago our pastor was held at gunpoint in churchyard,” Zipple tweeted on Monday. “But we’ll not permit guns in our church. Some Christians gotta be bold & say no more killing & we trust God enough to take care of the rest.”
In another tweet, Zipple anticipated objections from people who would accuse him of being “imprudent and foolish.”
And he had an answer for his critics: “I’ll say, but where are the fools for Christ? And who said the gospel was supposed to be easy?”
Zipple also revealed the church had buried “eight parishioners under the age of 30 this year who were all victims of gun violence.”
“Guns in every church! Jesus must be so proud of modern day America,” Zipple said on Tuesday in a tongue-in-cheek reply to an NRA tweet praising the “good guy with a gun” who had stopped the White Settlement shooter.
They weren't "gun violence" victims any more than the Tutsis were victims of "machete violence", Jews were victims of "gas violence", or Iraqi Christians victims of "bomb violence". Advocate for Christians to be strong. Be armed while plowing. Protect your family.
— rob (@robcarlin_) December 31, 2019
In August, Zipple cited an essay from social activist Dorothy Day to criticize pro-gun Christians.
Being prepared to defend yourself and family is not living in fear, it's taking wise measures to combat evil if the need should arise.
— Timothy Damien (@ShadowSeven50) August 8, 2019
Some Christians agreed with Zipple’s take.
My heart goes out to all of you, including that child's family. Thank you for your Gospel-focused stance.
— Elizabeth Evans (@Wallacewriter) December 31, 2019
“This is not a bold statement. Nor is this a Christian statement. It is your ‘peace testimony’ in which I respectfully disagree. I pray to the Lord that if ever I was in that situation he would guide my aim and give me the courage to stop the evil and save innocents,” one user tweeted.
They'll put up a sign.
Works every time.
— rob (@robcarlin_) December 31, 2019
Another said it was possible for Christians to be “fools for Christ and still protect our own.”
“Those things are not mutually exclusive. There is nothing Christian about letting innocent people die because we were too weak willed to defend them,” the commenter tweeted.
A Texas church shooting
Jack Wilson, the head of the security detail, fired a single shot that killed the gunman, who has been identified by authorities as Keith Thomas Kinnunen, 43, of River Oaks.
The victims of the shooting, identified as Anton Wallace, 64, of Fort Worth and Richard White, 67, of River Oaks, were also members of the civilian security force at West Freeway Church of Christ, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxson said.
Wallace was serving communion at the church in the Fort Worth suburb of White Settlement and was approached twice by the suspect in the moments before the gunfire rang out.
“When he sat back down the second time, shortly after that, he stood up, turned, and produced a shotgun,” Wilson told NBC News.
Wilson and White began “drawing our weapons. Richard did get his gun out of the holster. He was, I think, able to get a shot off, but it ended up going into the wall. The shooter had turned and shot him and then shot Tony and then started to turn to go toward the front of the auditorium,” Wilson told NBC.
“I fired one round. The subject went down.”
(Reuters contributed to this report.)