Pryor Creek Community Church is also one of a few dozen churches around the country that are offering concealed carry certification classes as a way to reach out to non-Christians and attract new members. Melton sees no conflict between being a Christian and possessing weapons.
But in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six adults, such sentiments are coming under sharp criticism from fellow Christians.
Duane Shank, a senior policy adviser at the Washington-based group Sojourners, said he is more concerned about weapons actually being in the church.
“A church is a place where we gather for worship and prayer in the name of the Prince of Peace,” he said. “Carrying a weapon, openly or concealed, into a place of worship is counter to that spirit.”