A church in Tampa Bay, Florida, is getting attention for its warning sign that the congregation is “heavily armed” and ready to use deadly force if anyone steps foot into the sanctuary wishing to do them harm.
“Welcome to the River at Tampa Bay Church,” the black, red, and white sign reads outside. “Right of admission reserved. This is private property.”
It goes on to say:
Please know this is not a gun free zone — we are heavily armed — any attempt will be dealt with deadly force — yes we are a church and we will protect out people.
It is signed, “The Pastors.”
The sign has been up for about a year, but with the recent shooting at a Baptist church in Texas — one that spawned another church in New York to publicly declare itself a “gun-free zone” — the message is giving the Tampa church a new round of publicity.
“It is a deterrent. Look at what is going on. In the past two months, look at what happened in Texas. Look at what happened in Las Vegas. Because we are a church that is on television, we are very involved in the community. We want people to know that this is a safe zone,” said Allen Hawes, one of the pastors. “If you walk through the door with the intention to harm, that sign serves as a deterrent to you. We are not a soft target. People here will defend their families.”
There have been comments that mock the church's "violent" message, but Hawes said he'd rather ruffle a few feathers than have to count bodies.
Local coverage is below: