LDS church bans guns on church property

Current law enforcement officers exempted

By Chris Boyette and Christina Maxouris, CNN

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint headquarters building in Salt Lake City, Utah.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - Carrying a lethal weapon onto church property was considered "inappropriate" under the policies of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now, it's prohibited.

The tweaked language can be seen in the church's "Handbook 2," which says: "Churches are dedicated for the worship of God and as havens from the cares and concerns of the world. With the exception of current law enforcement officers, the carrying of lethal weapons on church property, concealed or otherwise, is prohibited."

The previous rule said the carrying of lethal weapons was inappropriate.

Lethal weapons include a number of possible items including guns, said Daniel Woodruff,a spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The handbook update took effect in the first week of August, Woodruff said, but the change will be formally communicated to local Church leaders as new meetinghouse safety guidelines in the near future.

Those leaders will then be responsible for sharing the guidelines with their members, he added.

The change applies to the entire church, but due to a Texas law change regarding firearms in places of worship, a letter referencing the prohibition was recently sent to church leaders in Texas and shared with members, Woodruff said.

Next month, a new law will go into effect in Texas which will allow licensed handgun owners to legally carry their weapons in places of worship.

It's one of a string of new firearm laws that will take effect across Texas next month, further loosening gun restrictions in a state that already has some of the most lax weapons laws in the nation.

One of those laws will disallow school districts from prohibiting licensed gun owners -- including school employees -- from storing a firearm or ammunition in a locked vehicle on a school parking lot, as long as they're not in plain view. Another will allow foster homes to store firearms and ammunition in a safe and secure place for personal protection.

The handbook tweak isn't the first change the church has seen in recent years.

It's undergone many others, including dropping the moniker "Mormon," cutting an hour from Sunday church meetings, allowing missionaries to contact their families more often, ending the church's 100-year association with the Boy Scouts and dropping an anti-LGBT policy from 2015, saying children of same-sex couples can be baptized.

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