To the editor:
This past spring, the state Legislature passed new laws regarding the carry of guns in Kansas. One way this law impacts our community is not well known. The law provides that firearms can be carried into churches, mosques, synagogues and other houses of worship unless a congregation explicitly state that guns are not permitted on its property with a no-gun symbol on all its doors.
My congregation contacted the Lawrence Police Department to ask what would happen if someone with a gun came to our facility. They confirmed that the church is powerless to have the visitor removed if we do not post signs within sight of all entrances to our building that guns are not permitted. It would appear that the Legislature holds the rights of gun owners over those in congregations to practice their faith without interference from the state.
The First Presbyterian Church, where I serve as pastor, hosts several programs in our building each week involving children and youth, including our preschool, the Small World program of international guests, Mothers of Preschoolers and Scout troops. It is alarming and overwhelming to think of the responsibility our staff, teachers and members must bear in light of this new legislation. Many of the officers of this congregation feel that posting a no-gun sign would violate basic tenets of our faith and conscience. At the same time, recognizing the public service we offer with our programming, we feel that of necessity we must post such a symbol to comply with this law.