Texans to vote on amendment banning government from limiting worship services • Biblical Recorder

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Texans will vote on their election day Nov. 2 on a proposed state constitution amendment that prohibit the government from limiting or banning religious services.

The bill (TX HB1239, also known as Proposition 3) comes in response to government limitations on religious worship services that were enacted in the state during the COVID-19 pandemic. If passed, the amendment would add a clause to the state’s constitution prohibiting such government restrictions in the future.

Although the amendment divided some religious groups in the state, it was passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives with the unanimous support of Republicans as well as a number of Democrats.

One of the original co-authors and supporters of the legislation is a Republican representative Scott Sanford, who is also the executive pastor of Cottonwood Creek Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Allen, Texas.

Sanford said he believed churches were “unfairly singled out” by local government officials and that it was “unconstitutional or the right thing to do.”

“We felt it needed to be addressed, and we believe this bill is a biblical and constitutional way to resolve it,” he said. “It is very convenient that departments need a stable and legal environment in which to operate. Now, from a church perspective, if there is a surge of the virus or if another pandemic or something happens, we have confidence in knowing that we can continue. “

He believes the majority of Southern Baptist churches were doing their best to be safe and responsive during the COVID-19 pandemic, which made government restrictions all the more frustrating.

“The community is united by many different institutions, and none is more critical than the places of worship and the ministries they provide.”

Scott Sanford

“We really want to be responsible citizens and we want to do what’s best for the community and respect the advice of their governments,” Sanford said. “If you look at the evidence of how churches worked when allowed to do so, they were very safety conscious because we love our people and we want them to be safe.

“Churches are also doing a lot to ease the burden on local government, such as helping people with drug addiction or various household problems, and if the government were to shoulder all this burden itself, it would be overwhelmed. We are necessary and essential when it comes to the community.

Sanford expects the amendment to pass in November.

Responding to those who might believe the amendment goes too far or will have unintended consequences, Sanford said it comes down to the need and importance of the church in society.

“It’s just that the community is united by many different institutions, and none is more critical than the places of worship and the ministries they provide,” he said. “When you need us most, sometimes it’s when strangers might think it would be a good time to shut them down. “

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Timothy Cockes is an editor at Baptist Press.)


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