Mississippi law gives ‘soldiers of God’ as much power as the police

The state of Mississippi has just passed a law that gives churches and its members as much power as state security forces. The Mississippi Church Protection Act has now legalized all acts of violence, including killing, committed by so-called followers of Christ or soldiers of God. Also known as the Mississippi House Bill 786, the bill seeks

“To amend section 97-3-15, Mississippi code of 1975, to provide that killing a person while acting as a participant of a church or place of worship security team is justifiable homicide; and for the relate purposes.” 

As explained by Raw Story, the Bill allows churchgoers to:

“carry concealed firearms without a permit while also allowing churches to designate and train members to serve as armed security. According to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, House Bill 786 would also block state officials from enforcing federal regulations or executive orders that would conflict with the state constitution.” 

The Bill passed the Mississippi House in February, and last Wednesday it was approved by the Senate. Only one minor amendment has been made, so it is expected to go back to the Mississippi House and then it is scheduled to reach the governor. As explained by The Free Thought Project, with this Bill, the so called ‘soldiers of God’ or ‘soldiers of Christ’ are legally recognized and granted the power to kill. The passage of this bill essentially means the recognition of churches as sovereign entities by the state of Mississippi; sovereign entities that do not pay taxes, are conducted by their own laws, and are now immune to facing justice – even after committing the most violent of crimes.

The Secular Coalition for America has referred to the Mississippi House Bill 786 as the “worst state bill” in the US. Larry T. Decker, Executive Director of the organization said,

“This legislation would put ‘soldiers of God’ above the law, allowing them to act as judge, jury, and executioner… 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’.”

According to the Bill, the appointed ‘soldier‘ would be immune from civil prosecution:

“if the action in question occurs during the reasonable exercise of and within the course and scope of the member’s official duties as a member of the security program for the church or place of worship.”

Yet, the logic behind the Bill as explained by Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves is simply that the people in Mississippi should be able to go to church knowing they are safe and that there are adequate measures to protect them. Of course, this could be accomplished by hiring security guards. So legalizing religious institutions to recruit and train their own security forces, empowered to use deadly force, goes well beyond meeting that basic need.

Ironically, if ultimately signed into law by the Governor of Mississippi, this law would legalize something that the US has been trying to fight for a very long time: Sharia Law. Yes, because Islam is also a religion, just as Christianity is, and mosques are actually churches, they would have the same protections and rights. And bear in mind, Islamic jihadists consider themselves to be ‘soldiers of God’ – precisely what this law legalizes.

For a Republican-dominated state, the bill seems highly contradictory. Indeed, the logic behind a jihadist fighter is very similar to that proposed by the Bill for the ‘soldiers of God’. Of course, there is absolutely no reason or justification for granting churches of any religion any rights that other citizens do not have. But that, along with the ironic danger this law creates, appears to be lost on the Mississippi legislature.

This bill not only gives the church extraordinary powers, but also allows for the spread of further violence and criminality. It destroys the power of justice in the entire State, since the killer will also be the judge and jury. It represents a new step backwards in the elimination of violence inside the US.

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