By Justin Bachman MEXICO, N.Y. (NCC News) — Firearms and religion. It’s a combination sure to come with passionate responses from all sides. For one church in Mexico, New York, it’s not as complicated. Lighthouse Revival Church has a big, bold message scrolling across its website: “We are NOT a gun-free zone. We protect our people.”
Inside and out, Lighthouse revival looks like any other church. It’s the website’s message about not being a gun-free zone that has sparked a lot of media attention recently. It’s something that Pastor Ron Russell said has missed the point.
“It’s not the ‘Oh take away the guns,’” Russell said. “That’s not the issue. It’s a safety issue.”
I met with Russell on a Thursday before the service. He stressed how it was a lighter crowd because it was during the week. No matter the crowd’s size, Russell said he feels responsible for the safety of every one of his parishioners — especially since times have changed.
“When I first came up here in ’94, nobody was talking about guns. Nobody was talking about shooting places up,” Russell said. “Nobody was talking about gun-free zones. What’s happened? The situation in the last four years has totally changed.”
He said that he gets messages from people all over the country, both supportive and negative, but he doesn’t dwell on the noise.
“Everyone has an opinion,” Russell said, reading a message from his phone. “I don’t really care about other people’s opinions because I’m the one responsible for my 50 kids and my 200 parishioners”
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