The Seventh-day Adventist Church's Official Stance on Assault Weapon Sales: Ban Them!

The Pulse Massacre Sunday in Orlando, Florida has once again shone a light on the use of assault weapons in acts of mass violence. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has spoken clearly against the legal sale and purchase of such weapons.

The following is the Seventh-day Adventist Church's official stance on assault weapons, adopted in 1990. -Ed.

BAN ON SALES OF ASSAULT WEAPONS TO CIVILIANS Automatic or semi-automatic military-style weapons are becoming increasingly available to civilians. In some areas of the world it is relatively easy to acquire such guns. They show up not only in the street, but in the hands of youngsters at school. Many crimes are committed through the use of these kinds of weapons. They are made to kill people. They have no legitimate recreational use.

The teachings and example of Christ constitute the guide for the Christian today. Christ came into the world to save lives, not to destroy them (Luke 9:56). When Peter drew his weapon Jesus said to him: "Put your sword back in its place . . . All who take the sword will die by the sword" (Matt. 26:52 TEV). Jesus did not engage in violence.

The argument is made by some that banning assault weapons limits the rights of people and that guns do not commit crimes, but people do. While it is true that violence and criminal inclinations lead to guns, it is also true that availability of guns leads to violence. The opportunity for civilians to acquire by purchase or otherwise automatic or semi-automatic assault weapons only increases the number of deaths resulting from human crimes. Possession of guns by civilians in the United States has increased by an estimated 300 per cent in the past four years. During the same period there has been a staggering increase in armed attacks and resulting deaths.

In most of the world such weapons cannot be acquired by any legal means. The Church views with alarm the relative ease with which they may be acquired in some areas. Their availability can only open the possibility of further tragedies.

Pursuits of peace and the preservation of life are to be the goals of Christians. Evil cannot be effectively met with evil, but must be overcome with good. Seventh-day Adventists, with other people of good will, wish to cooperate in using every legitimate means of reducing, and eliminating where possible, the root causes of crime. In addition, with public safety and the value of human life in mind, the sale of automatic or semi-automatic assault weapons should be strictly controlled. This would reduce the use of weapons by mentally disturbed people and criminals, especially those involved in drug and gang activities.

This public statement was released by the General Conference president, Neal C. Wilson, after consultation with the 16 world vice presidents of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, on July 5, 1990, at the General Conference session in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

The church leaders should give this to all media organizations and challenge all churches to make a similar public statement.

Since there are many religious believers who are strong supporters of the right to life, isn’t this a call for everyone to support the right to life of citizens living today?


Thanks, Spectrum editors, for digging this out. The statement comes from 25 years ago, but it’s still encouraging to see the GC getting something right.

I think the Second Amendment uses the phrase “well regulated,” which we too often forget. And the idea of easily available “assault” weapons surely counts as an apt field for regulation. If we are beholden to the Sermon on the Mount, why at all would we want to doubt this?



Assault rifles are weapons of war and should be appropriately confined to
"the militia", which I take to mean in modern context, the National Gaurd.

Our largely urban society does little hunting of animals, and certainly most families do not need to hunt to eat. Furthermore assault weapons are not suitable for hunting.

I applaud the church’s official stance on Assault Weapons.
It should be widely publicized in the national media, to show that Adventists are people of peace and not war.

The vast majority of Americans support sensible gun control, but are thwarted by the NRA, much as women’s ordination was thwarted by third world Adventists at our last General Conference!


The Church should stick by its real policy of butting out of all political issues save the issue of religious freedom.

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Well, I am not sure of the church’s stance on weapon issue. does the church support its members owning guns of not? if we got no clear cut policy then, i advise that we allow the sleepy dog to sleep. Lets focus on the spiritual duty of the church, people who get involved with mass murder and wickedness, are simply individuals who are demonically possessed. the bible says “we wrestle not against flesh and blood but powers of darkness,”. people need to be delivered from the power of darkness, only demoniac would do such wickedness.

Believe me, here in Austria it is difficult for a private person to get the permission for buying shooting weapons (I do not know about the possibilities to get other device declared as “weapon”, like special knifes). I would have had this possibility - and, recalling this or that situation in my life - I am glad NOT having had a Glock pistol. (Oh boy, 14 bullets in the cartridge, hidden in the handle, , one in the barrel - for shooting very quickly !) And to have such a thing at hands simply is a fascinating temptation ! A feeling of power, of might !

“Let us focus on the spiritual duty of the Church” - oh, preaching peace is no matter for a Christian ? Jes. 52 : 7.


Killing people is not a “political issue”, but a very existential one. Preventing killing, saving lives is not an optional add on we should leave to others. Incidentally … Adventist policy was to stay out of party politics. “Allegiance” to any party will change and should change depending on the issue at hand. But this is an aside…

Not sure what you mean by “spiritual duty” … Your very argument (“demon possesion”) would indicate that addressing availabilty of assault weapons is a spiritual duty.

Spirituality is about life and life in abundance. Assault weapons are not.


Automatic weapons are not available to the public and have not been for many years if ever. The term “assault rifle” really has no meaning, and the rifles that are available are not military. They call them military “style” to increase their appeal, but they are specifically made for civilian use. If you want to ban a certain “breed” of guns, you need to specify the exact features you are trying to avoid. It will be very difficult to ban some guns without banning them all. Handguns can shoot just as fast and as deadly as rifles, and are easier to conceal, so banning rifles will be a minor speed bump for someone intent on a multiple murder. A handgun can hold 15 or more rounds, and can be reloaded in 2-3 seconds. I understand why the church is not knowledgeable about guns, but if you want to participate in a national gun debate, someone is going to have to learn the technology. (I am a shooter and gun advocate, but I do not hunt and only shoot at the gun range for recreation and competition)


based on the issue of gun control alone, i do hope most adventists vote for hillary in november, along with every democrat they can find for the house and senate…i don’t think an outright repeal of the second amendment is likely, as some are suggesting, but at least the appointment of SCOTUS justices who understand its scope and context is a possibility in a hillary presidency…

i know when i was a kid, growing up in the andrews university area in the eary '70’s, everybody voted republican…but the way the NRA has overcome and hijacked that party now means any hope for rational gun control won’t be possible under a trump presidency…the relationship between gun availability and gun violence has been so thoroughly demonstrated, it’s time for reasonable people to take their country back…the republican platform will have many fine points in it, but all of these will be overshadowed by the fact that gun violence will only increase until gun availability and access can be controlled, which won’t happen under republicans…the GOP should probably be allowed to die out, and then be reconstructed with the NRA excised from it, before it can be safely voted for ever again…

Mike Kalish, My understanding is that assault rifles such as the AR15 can be quite easily, and legally, converted to full automatic operation.


Just a point of clarification.

This statement was unilaterally initiated by the then General Conference president, issued apparently after announcing he had consulted with 16 church vice-presidents, persons approved by him to serve as his ex officio advisors.

The next day, this president failed to be re-nominated to the presidency of the church by reason of the nominating committee’s disappointment with his leadership substance and/or style, the demonstration of which includes this statement. What is clear, it seems, is that Neal C. Wilson mistakenly identified ‘The Church’ as himself in issuing this statement.

There is a certain irony by Spectrum in its claim here that this statement constitutes ‘The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Official Stance on Assault Weapon Sales.’

Also, to his credit, the current General Conference president does not claim he can, after consultation with a few hand-picked advisors, issue a personal statement to be the church’s official position. The current president clearly has learned from his father’s behavior in issuing this statement the day before he was disposed as General Conference president.

This comment is not meant to counter or endorse the substance of the statement, only that this statement is not the official position of the church, and never was. With this in mind, Spectrum is blatantly misusing this statement to headline that it is, or ever was, ‘the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Official Stance.’

Spectrum has often done much better than this and I’m confident will continue to improve is journalistic authenticity.


Subsequently I came across this reference for those who may be keen to fantasize about the 5 million AR-15’s in private hands in the U.S. and need a little detail to sharpen the image:

I realize that I just wrote something of a confession there … I did find it an interesting read, with a promise of a soon to be published approach to shooter control (which I’m told is not gun control). That is intriguing as it is pretty clear that the Orlando shooter was fully government licensed to buy and own the weapons he used.


It is interesting that the church has a firm Position Statement regarding assault weapons which condemns them, but only a wishy-washy Guideline regarding abortion that states “the church does not serve as conscience for individuals.” How many innocent pre-born children die each year from abortion? Compare that number to how many innocent people die each year from assault weapons? TEN TIMES MORE people die in the United States IN ONE DAY from ABORTION than die in an entire year from assault weapons. If you are willing to learn the truth about assault weapons, then check out this article:


Ban sale of all automatic and semi-automatic guns.

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My humble understanding of the Adventist position is along the lines that we are non-combatants who reject the use of any weapon whether automatic or manual.

The command “Thou shalt not kill” is pretty straightforward.

Do we really need a special hermeneutic?

Ed: To be clear, I do not doubt the complexity of self preservation. I simply draw attention to the interpretive wriggling of those Christians who want to hold on to their guns, while denying life saving interpretive accommodation on other texts.

Efforts to exercise moral equivalence across situations is not helpful. Never-the-less those of us who enjoy the security of imperial nations need to be a bit more humble about the assertion of military power against other nations, and the consequence for innocents.


If any of you strict, observant Adventists out there in Spectrum-land have an AR-15 that conscience forbids you to retain, I will be happy to buy it from you. I’ve wanted one for decades. The moderator has my email.



You’ll be able to use it on some Muslim immigrants, David.

@floyd @oldabe @kennlutz


“Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition”

I guess faith in God only goes so far, eh, David?


My best friend, in another life, was quite handy at converting them.

Que sara sare!


First we have to ask you a few questions:

  1. Are you on any “no fly” list?
  2. Are you mentally stable?
  3. Have you ever threatened anyone who disagreed with you on any issue?
  4. Did you ever get aggravated because someone held a different religious opinion?
  5. Did you ever discriminate against women, gays, people of color, etc?

Answer them all and we will go from there. You may be able to get a good firearm…