Forced to Attend Church?

Image from http://azcapitoltimes.com
Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen. Image from http://azcapitoltimes.com

It seems that several months ago, a state senator from Arizona suggested that their legislative body “should be debating a bill requiring every American to attend a church of their choice on Sunday”.  The legislator in question is Senator Sylvia Allen from the 6th district, who also serves as the president pro tempore of that body.

Here is a clip of her statement:

Although I can certainly appreciate the worrisome decline of morals in the nation, I have to confess that what Senator Allen is suggesting is particularly troubling.  One of the great aspects of our country is the freedom to choose one’s religion.  In the history of the world, the ability to decide your own religion is a rather new phenomenon; often times the state would force a person to belong to a certain religious group and mandate that a portion of one’s wealth must be given to a particular faith.  Refusal to do so could result in expulsions, fines, imprisonment, and even execution.

For the last two and a half years, I have been regularly attending a Methodist church in Harrisonburg.  However, my attendance is a result of my choice and no one has compelled me to do otherwise.  Although someone ashamed to admit, several months ago I accidentally missed a service due to unexpected fatigue.  Does Senator Allen think that it would be proper for the state government to be alerted of my absence?  I should hope not!

If you read her Wikipedia page, you’ll discover that Senator Sylvia Allen is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a church that has historically engaged in a variety of disputes (some deadly) with local governments, state governments, and even the federal government.  In the 1800s, many people in power considered the Mormon faith to be against the teachings of traditional Christianity and therefore suggested that the government ought to take an active role in snuffing it out.  One does wonder if Ms. Allen is aware of the history of her church and, if she is, how could she even joke of such legislation?

In addition to those attend church on Sunday, there are other Christians, such as the 7th Day Adventists, who hold Saturday as the Sabbath.  Should they be required to worship on Sunday instead?  How about the Jews, or the Muslims, or the variety of other religious groups that form our nation?  Should we force them to attend Sunday service?  Or what about the atheists, the agnostics, and those who simply choose not to go to church on Sunday for whatever reason?  Is it better for the government to strip away freewill in order to achieve the supposed greater good of a moral rebirth in this country?

In all honesty, I can’t say that I know too much about Senator Allen other than what I’ve read in conjunction with news of this story.  However, I would strongly oppose any attempt to force a person to attend any religious service.  Yes, you are welcome to visit my church sometime, but, if you choose not to, I have no plans to run to the authorities to compel your presence.  No one should have such a power and if Senator Allen thinks otherwise then the people of Arizona ought to replace her with someone who has at least some vague understanding of the meaning of liberty.

Thanks to Sherry Huffman from bringing this issue to my attention.

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