God and Guns: Leawood pastor takes on two dicey issues - KCTV5

God and Guns: Leawood pastor takes on two dicey issues

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The leader of the largest Methodist church in the country reserved an entire Sunday sermon to talk about two of the most polarizing issues in the country: guns and religion. (KCTV5) The leader of the largest Methodist church in the country reserved an entire Sunday sermon to talk about two of the most polarizing issues in the country: guns and religion. (KCTV5)
Thousands of people file into a Leawood church for a sermon that will pack a lot of firepower. The subjects are two issues where strong opinions run deep: God and guns. (KCTV5) Thousands of people file into a Leawood church for a sermon that will pack a lot of firepower. The subjects are two issues where strong opinions run deep: God and guns. (KCTV5)
Pastor Adam Hamilton sat down with KCTV5 before he gave the sermon. He feels there is middle ground the country can find on the issue. (KCTV5) Pastor Adam Hamilton sat down with KCTV5 before he gave the sermon. He feels there is middle ground the country can find on the issue. (KCTV5)
LEAWOOD, KS (KCTV) -

The leader of the largest Methodist church in the country reserved an entire Sunday sermon to talk about two of the most polarizing issues in the country: guns and religion.

Thousands of people file into a Leawood church for a sermon that will pack a lot of firepower. The subjects are two issues where strong opinions run deep: God and guns.

Gun rights and gun control are some of the most polarizing issues in the country. When you pair it with religion it can become a powder keg.

Pastor Adam Hamilton sat down with KCTV5 before he gave the sermon. He feels there is middle ground the country can find on the issue.

"We felt like, if we can help people understand both sides, often the truth is somewhere in the middle, at least part of the truth is in the middle," said Hamilton.

The parishioners hang on Hamilton’s every word. It’s a scene that plays out most Sundays at Church of the Resurrection, but this Sunday, the crowd seems even more engaged.

Hamilton makes it clears he supports the Second Amendment but says at times common sense can be lacking.

"The idea that in Kansas you can go buy a gun and carry wherever you want to, concealed without any kind of training makes no sense,” points out Hamilton. “This is a lethal weapon you're giving to somebody and you're not teaching them anything about how to use it."

To understand how the country got to this point, the pastor reflects on the carnage carried out in mass shootings like Newtown, Virginia Tech and San Bernardino. Even the shooting that took three lives in Overland Park, when self-proclaimed white supremacist Frazier Glenn Cross went on a shooting rampage outside Jewish institutions in April 2014.

"I think it's the mass killings that have led people to start talking more about gun control. It’s led gun advocates to speak up about why we need guns and to make sure they go get guns for fear that someday they may not be able to get them,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton says he believes there should be more of an effort to keep guns out of the hands of felons and those with severe mental illness.

There are actually two bills making their way through the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate that aim to balance the Second Amendment and mental health. One of them even has the backing of the National Rifle Association.

Hamilton also wants first-time gun buyers to have easy access to gun safety training. He says he’d like to see a system for background checks with private firearm purchases.

After the sermon, the parishioners file out into the church’s lobby. Most are talking about the sermon. The conversations aren’t heated and those on both sides of the issue are calmly discussing their viewpoints. Many believe while they may not agree with one another on gun control, it’s good to keep the conversation going in a loving environment like church.

"Kind of bring the left and the right wing and bring them to a conversation because that's what's missing right? And that the majority of us are in the middle somewhere,” says Grant McCloskey of Olathe, who attended the sermon. “Either we have a gun or we don't have a gun and we think this or we think that, but there's just not a conversation happening."

Washington Delima of Overland Park blames the political scene.

"I think there's a lot of things that we all agree,” says Delima. “The division is more superficial than actually deep, is more political than actual reality."

Jan Clarkson of Overland Park says she doesn’t own a gun herself but isn’t against gun ownership.

“I would be in favor of more responsible gun laws,” said Clarkson.

Hamilton’s goal wasn’t to change any minds but to spark a conversation he believes so many people are afraid to have.

"So for those members of the church who have guns and who've been frustrated by their friends who advocate for more regulation, they might be able to say hey, I just heard my pastor talk about this and I think this is a place we can find some common ground,” says Hamilton. “Wouldn't it be great if you walked out of church and are able to connect with their friends who see this differently, and say hey we can agree on this?  And then work together for some common sense things that might make our society safer."

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