Huntsville churches react to "Stand Your Ground" law

Alabama is considering expanding the "Stand Your Ground" law to include churches.

Posted: Mar 15, 2019 6:34 PM
Updated: Mar 18, 2019 10:29 PM

Alabama is considering expanding the "Stand Your Ground" law to apply to churches. 

Right now, it's up to the individual church to allow guns. A Rogersville republican filed the bill this month.

This means someone could use deadly force inside a church if a person was threatening their life. WAAY 31 reached out to at least 20 churches on Friday, and the pastor at Grateful Life Community Church said she doesn't think guns will protect church-goers. Some church-goers said they believe they have a right to defend themselves in any situation.

"We are trying to work toward unity and justice and peace and love, and guns don't have a place in the church for that," said the pastor of Grateful Life Community Church, Sherry Birney.

Pastors and church-goers in Huntsville have strong opinions about the Alabama Church Protection Act. A church-goer, Josh Hatfield, said the New Zealand mosque attack shows why people should always be prepared.

"I believe that if someone comes into a church shooting, that we should be able to defend ourselves," said Hatfield. "We have kids being killed, we have just random people in movie theaters and it is a shame, but if someone comes in there and starts shooting at me or someone in the church, I would like to defend myself. No questions asked."

Birney said guns don't belong in a house of worship.

"We do not promote weapons in our church, because ... our church and our denomination focuses on the movement for wholeness in a fragmented world," said Birney.

WAAY 31 spoke to several pastors who said they not only support the bill, but actively train their congregations for a worst-case scenario. None of them wanted to go on camera, but the opinions of pastor Birney and Hatfield show the issue of safety is one that varies greatly among the faithful.

"If it's a violent enough issue, we know how to call the police," said Birney.

"You see people dying everyday. Do you want to be the next person to die? Or your family member? What if someone comes in and shoots your kid and you're standing next to them and you could help them, defend them? Wouldn't you rather? I think I would," said Hatfield.

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