DETROIT – The Rev. Lawrence Adams teaches his flock at the Westside Bible Church to turn the other cheek. Just in case, though, the 54-year-old retired police lieutenant also wears a handgun under his robe.
Adams is one of several Detroit clergymen who have taken to packing heat in the pulpit. They have committed their lives to a man who preached nonviolence and told followers to love their enemies. But they also say it’s up to them to protect their parishioners in church.
“As a pastor, I’m referred to as a shepherd,” Adams said. “Shepherds have the responsibility of watching over their flock. Do I want to hurt somebody? Absolutely not!”
Responding to a break-in at his church Sunday evening, Adams surprised a burglar carrying out a bag of loot and shot the man in the abdomen after the man swung the bag at him.
The burglar survived — for which Adams is grateful — but the reverend said he could have been hurt or killed if he had not been armed.
Nation’s highest homicide rate
Detroit had the nation’s highest homicide rate last year among cities of at least 500,000 residents. The city has been losing manufacturing jobs for decades, and these days about one in four working-age residents is without a job.