Thursday, March 31, 2016

Call the Church Police!

Or, on second thought, maybe don't.

A new bill working its way through the Mississippi legislature called the “Mississippi Church Protection Act” would allow members of religious congregations to be endowed with the same "shoot to kill" authority currently extended to police officers. If the bill passes, killing someone while acting as a participant of a church or other house of worship will be treated as justifiable homicide.

The Bill passed the Mississippi House in February and, on Wednesday, the Senate approved it, making one minor amendment. It is now scheduled to go back to the House where it will then find its way to the governor’s desk. This Bill legally recognizes actual “soldiers of Christ” and grants them the power to kill. What’s more, there is no justification for granting churches extra rights that other citizens do not have. By passing this bill, the state of Mississippi effectively recognizes churches as their own sovereign entities — mini-states that are tax-free and immune from their acts of violence carried out in their official duties.

“The ‘Mississippi Church of Protection Act’ is well deserving of the title for ‘Worst State Bill.’ This legislation would put ‘soldiers of God’ above the law, allowing them to act as judge, jury, and executioner,” said Larry T. Decker, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America. “Religious institutions are already exempt from taxation, financial transparency, and many civil rights laws. The Mississippi Church Protection Act would constitute an unprecedented and dangerous next step. Belonging to a church should not afford anyone the same rights and protections as law enforcement. This legislation emboldens extremists by creating a legal means for radical preachers to enlist their congregants into ‘God’s army.'”

Let me also point out that the bill would authorize "Soldiers of Thelema" as well. Does Mississippi really want that? My guess is that there will all sorts of hemming and hawing the moment any non-Christian religion tries to do this, the case will be appealed to the Supreme Court, and the law will be declared unconstitutional because the state will try to argue that it only should apply to Christians. But that's just not allowed. Either everyone has to be able to do it, or no one can.

Me, I vote for no one. We already have enough trouble dealing with police officers who kill civilians. Why would anybody want to extend that to members of religious congregations? As a point, if somebody barges into a church with a gun and starts shooting people, members of the congregation who happen to be armed are already allowed to shoot back in self-defense. So I fail to see what this bill could possible accomplish.

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