Alabama House of Representatives Approves Defense Law. “The Alabama House of Representatives has approved a revision of the state's ‘Stand Your Ground’ law to specify that deadly force can be used to defend someone in a church. The Houses of Representatives approved the bill Thursday [February 15] on a 40-16 vote. It now moves to the Alabama Senate. Republican Rep. Lynn Greer of Rogersville cited deadly church shootings in Tennessee and South Carolina. Greer said church members need the legal protection to ‘shoot back’ if someone comes into a church to harm people” (“House Approves Church ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law,” US News & World Report).
These resources can help you learn steps to protect your church from violent incidents.
Recent Mass Shootings Spark Ministry Responses. “Chaplains from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) arrived in Parkland, Florida, within hours of Wednesday’s school shooting that killed at least 17 teens and faculty members. This is the fifth deployment this year for the ministry’s rapid response team, trained to provide emotional and spiritual support amid crises. Each 2018 deployment has been gun-related. . . . The Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI) at Wheaton College reflects the new scope of disaster ministry, which now includes responding to mass shootings alongside the more traditional relief efforts that surround natural disasters. HDI researchers have found that such forms of religious support help victims of mass shootings in similar ways as they have been shown to help victims of natural disasters. Recent studies indicate that people connected to churches and religious communities fare better in their recovery” (“Not an Act of God: Ministries Respond to Surge in Mass Shootings,” Christianity Today).
Dr. Jamie D. Aten, executive director of the HDI, regularly writes for Church Law & Tax—in this column, he discusses how leaders can avoid disaster aid burnout.
Christian Leaders Discuss Potential Deportations’ Effect on Churches. “The increased dependence on immigrants to fill U.S. church pews means that Christian leaders have a big stake in the current debate over immigration policy. While many cite the biblical instruction to welcome the stranger, some have a more existential concern for supporting a generous approach: Without immigrants, they fear the U.S. Christian church may not survive in its current form. ‘Mass deportation of current immigrants would do nothing less than cripple American Christianity for generations to come,’ says Samuel Rodriguez, who prayed at President Trump's inauguration. ‘If you deport the immigrants, you are deporting the future of Christianity.’ According to surveys by the Pew Research Center, one-fourth of all U.S. Catholics are immigrants. An estimated 40 percent of Eastern Orthodox Christians in the United States were born outside the country. Even the Episcopal church, one of the whitest and most traditional of the Christian denominations in the United States, is seeing an influx of immigrant worshippers. . . . Not surprisingly, the prospect of increased immigration restriction can be unsettling to Christian leaders. The Trump administration is ending large parts of the temporary protected status program, which has offered temporary residence to people fleeing violence or natural disaster” (“Some Christian Leaders Say Deportations Would Jeopardize Their Churches,” NPR).
Want to know more about how immigration law affects churches? Check out this downloadable resource.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Sues Company over Vaccination Issue. “The EEOC announced this week that it has filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against the Owossso, Michigan-based Memorial Healthcare. The company revoked its job offer to Yvonne Bair to work as a medical transcriptionist after she objected on religious grounds to receiving an influenza shot or spray immunization. Memorial refused her suggested accommodation of allowing her to wear a mask, even though company policy allowed masks as an alternative for those who cannot take a vaccine for other reasons” (“EEOC Sues Over Accommodation for Religious Objection to Flu Vaccine,” Religion Clause).
Learn more about the unvaccinated movement—and how it can affect churches—in this article.
Emily Lund is assistant editor for Church Law & Tax.
This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."
Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.