A Nashville church that's fighting to keep from registering its daily child ''camp'' as a state-licensed day-care center posts armed guards on the church grounds, which is raising alarms for state human services officials.

The church also defied a court order yesterday and continued with its day camp, which accommodates more than 150 children up to age 5.

Priest Lake Community Baptist Church officials say that the guards carry their weapons legally and that the state is trying to force an ''atheist'' view on the congregation by requiring it to register as a day-care provider.

State officials say that under the law, any child-care provider cannot have any weapons around children.

''We have no intention or want to go and get a license,'' church spokesman Charles Bennett told reporters yesterday. Bennett is a deacon with the church whose 4-year-old son attends the day camp. ''We would more than comply with whatever the DHS has to offer as it relates to safety and child welfare. These are our kids; that's the thing that they seem to forget. These are our kids. If there's a safety concern there, believe me, as a parent I would be the first one to be concerned.''

Meanwhile, Michelle Mowery Johnson, spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services, questions the church's heavy security in an area of town that's reasonably safe.

''What is so wrong with that area if they need armed guards? What is going to happen to the children? It's disturbing to think that they need to have armed guards. I do not know of any other child-care centers that have them.''

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