Now is the time to act!
At the city of Chicago’s Martin Luther King celebration, I was seated at the head table with the mayor. Not bad except that it was a very large round table and with the noise in the room, it was impossible to have a conversation. Next to me on the left was an empty space because it faced the podium. Next to me on the right was Governor Pat Quinn.
Again, that would have been a nice thing except that he only sat down once and that was when the Mistress of Ceremonies called him by name to sit down. I immediately took my (one) chance to talk to him.
I asked him if he thought the Concealed Carry amendment for houses of worship would be passed at the coming Legislative session. He crossed his fingers.
I wasn’t encouraged by the gesture.
He went on to talk about the fact that bars and restaurants also weren’t in the Concealed Carry legislation and needed to be added. Fair enough.
I wrote him earlier in January. Below is a copy of my letter. If I had written after talking to him, I would have included bars and restaurants.
I urge people in the Northern Illinois Conference to write the Governor and your Legislators to pass the amendment when it comes up. We need to make sure that houses of worship, bars and restaurants are added to the list.
Please write and let me know if you do!
Governor Pat Quinn
Office of the Governor
207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
Dear Governor Quinn:
There is great concern within the religious community that I hope you will be able to address.
Gun violence has proliferated throughout our state as well as our country and I know from my own communities and churches the tragedies that result from both the intentional and accidental use of guns. As the United Methodist bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference I represent a major Christian denomination that historically and consistently has opposed the proliferation of guns in American life.
I am very concerned about the omission of places of religious worship in the recent conceal- and-carry bill that was passed in the State Legislature in 2013. Senator Dan Kotowski is going to be introducing an amendment to the conceal-and-carry bill in order to add places of religious worship and activity to the list where guns are prohibited, e.g. schools, hospitals, libraries, bars, and casinos. I ask you to support Senator Kotowski’s amendment.
Synagogues, mosques, temples, and churches are contexts within which people seek support and understanding. Often the clergy and lay church staff members deal seven days a week with people who are distraught, grieving, lost, angry, and even unstable. For the law explicitly to exclude guns from such settings would be a great comfort both to the religious workers and to those seeking help.
It also is true that throughout history religious institutions have had an implied covenant with people of the community that they will offer “sanctuary,” a context within which all can pray, meditate, ponder, rest, and in some of our settings here in Illinois, warm up or cool off as the weather requires. To permit guns in sanctuaries simply jeopardizes religious communities as they do the work they are called to do. It would be a case of the Second Amendment nullifying the First Amendment.
Please support and speak out on this amendment and if there is any way I can be of assistance, please let me know.
Northern Illinois/Chicago Episcopal Area