Clergy Defy State Requirement to Register Gun Bans

Clergy Defy State Requirement to Register Gun Bans

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John Hollenhorst reporting A score of prominent church leaders took a defiant stance today on the always controversial subject of guns in churches.

Bishop George Niederauer/Catholic Diocese of SLC: "As my LDS friends stated years ago, guns have no place in houses of worship."

The clergy from numerous faiths came together for a message they say is timed for the Christmas Season.

They will prohibit guns in their churches, but they will not submit their names to a new state registry created by the legislature.

The church leaders say they're taking a stand on principle.

They're refusing to comply with a new state law which they say crosses a constitutional line and gets government entangled in religion.

Churches have tangled with the legislature for years on concealed weapons. They eventually won the right to prohibit guns from church, as long as they post a sign saying so.

But in a little noticed amendment to the law earlier this year, the legislature created a registry of gun-prohibiting churches.

So far, only three churches have signed up.

Today, church leaders said they've deliberately decided not to follow the law because they don't think the state has a consitutional right to require it.

Bishop George Niederauer/Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City: "I think it's kind of a surrender on our part to say, 'Well, you can tell us how we can regulate our worship.' I think that's a mixture of state and church which most people find offensive."

Rev. David Henry/Presbyterian minister: "Our security is our hope in Jesus Christ, not on a good job and not in carrying a gun, but rather it is our faith."

But supporters of the amendment say the church leaders are misinterpreting the point. They say it was intended to put gun owners on notice, so they don't unknowingly take guns into a church that prohibits them.

A lobbyist and a top lawmaker who helped draft the amendent told us they're willing to consider amending the law once again.

Both say a sign at the door accomplishes pretty much the same thing.

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