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CHURCHGOERS ARMED WITH MORE THAN FAITH?

Until public safety officials recently speculated that Utah's concealed-weapons law may prevent churches, schools and businesses from prohibiting firearms, most clerical leaders hadn't given much thought to whether worshipers were packing heat.

Spokesman Jerry Pond said leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have not dealt with the weapons issue, but they plan to formulate a policy soon.There are no policies in the Roman Catholic, Episcopal or Greek Orthodox communities.

However, Malin Foster, Episcopal diocese spokesman, said, "If you feel you need to carry a gun to go to church, you need to reassess your attitude about going to church.

"In tradition and in some facts of law, a church is a sanctuary," Foster said. "We don't have a policy and we hope we never need a policy."

There has not been a need for a policy at Congregation Kol Ami's synagogue, said Anne Asman, congregation president, but the Jewish Community Center and its school prohibit weapons.

"This is not about safety. This is about gun control," Thomas Corkish, Anchor Baptist Church pastor said. He suspected the issue was being raised by the liberal clergy.

"I wonder why there would be a problem with it, unless they don't trust those in their congregation who carry arms," he said.

Scott Engen of the Utah Shooting Sports Council said violence has occurred in churches, including the case last year in which a man kidnapped his estranged wife and son from church.

Engen said his group is not advocating everyone carry a gun to church, "but if they believe they would be safer, they should have the right."

"I can't imagine why anyone would want to bring a weapon to a house of worship," said Noel Ravan, pastor at the Salt Lake Christian Center. "I find the whole idea somewhat appalling."