Arkansas state legislators just passed an “emergency” bill, SB 71, removing a ban on guns in churches. The Church Protection Act of 2013 is being hailed as a bipartisan bill that will allow Arkansas churchgoers to “better protect themselves” in their houses of worship. The bill’s lead sponsor in the House calls it ”removing a state mandated restriction on religious freedom.”
Only 12 out of a total of 125 state lawmakers in both houses voted against the bill.
Lawmakers rammed through the bill as an “emergency,” because labeling it as an “emergency” means as soon as Governor Mike Beebe, who supports the legislation, signs it, it will become law.
Yesterday, the NRA lauded its passage in the Arkansas House.
Note that the last time there was an actual shooting in an Arkansas church was back in 1999, but after almost fourteen years without a shooting in a church, something apparently had to be done.
The bill’s lead sponsor in the House, Rep. Nate Bell, delivering his speech on the floor, and actually stated, “I’m proud as an Arkansan because we are on the cusp of removing a state mandated restriction on religious freedom. It’s time!”
Bell also claimed the bill “is primarily about protecting another God given and constitutionally guaranteed right,” according to his remarks he posted to Facebook:
The First Amendment begins with these words, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise therof…”
Article 2 section 24 of the Arkansas Constitution reads, “All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; ……………… No human authority can, in any case or manner whatsoever, control or interfere with the right of conscience; and no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment, denomination or mode of worship, above any other.”
That language is followed by Section 25 which reads, “Religion, morality and knowledge being essential to good government, the General Assembly shall enact suitable laws to protect every religious denomination in the peaceable enjoyment of its own mode of public worship.” [gobbledegook formatting Bell's not ours]
It’s time for us to get our collective noses out of the religious affairs of churches and for someone other than politicians to be making theological decisions.
Rep. Bell clearly has no grasp of the U.S. constitution and it would behoove the good people of Arkansas to pay for him to attend constitutional law classes.
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