Mandatory church attendance is equally bad for secular people and non-secular people

Last week, Arizona Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, continued Arizona’s long history of being one of the most ignorant states in the country. During a debate over a concealed-carry gun bill, Allen remarked that people should be able to carry guns into public buildings because of the moral erosion in the U.S.

Allen continued on to say that we should lead our country into a moral rebirth by making church attendance mandatory and even went so far as to call for a bill requiring every person to attend a church of their choice every Sunday.

Putting aside the topic of concealed-carrying weapons, Allen’s statements regarding religion are deeply troubling. Not because they had no reason to be mentioned during a gun debate, but because they clearly demonstrate that the senator lacks any basic understanding of the Constitution or what it even means to be religious.

For being a Tea Party Republican and a person who calls for us to return to the days where the Constitution still meant something, Allen certainly has selective memory. One minute she builds an argument firmly based on the Second Amendment and then in the next she completely forgets about the First Amendment. You know, the unimportant one, the one that states that Congress should make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibit the free exercise thereof. I guess when it comes to respecting the rights of people, Allen only acknowledges the ones that concern the guns of the people and not their core religious or secular values.

While Sen. Allen’s whitewashing of the Constitution is troubling enough, what worries me more is her lack of understanding of the very thing she is trying to spread. Being a former Christian, I admit my knowledge of religion is woefully lacking. But from what I can remember from church, religion is based firmly on the ideas of choice and freewill. The entire concept of faith or religion is based off you willingly accepting God into your life. That you willing accept the fact that there is something bigger than you. Not because someone forces you to, but instead because you choose to believe on your own freewill. This is the concept that Sen. Allen is painfully ignorant of. And if Sen. Allen were to have her way, she would remove all authenticity in religion and ultimately kill the entire idea of faith.

I haven’t been to church in five years, and I haven’t read the Bible in God only knows how long, so I know I have no right to force my beliefs on anyone. But neither does a senator. As a matter of fact, no one has the right to do so. And that’s exactly what makes this country so great. We have no national church, we don’t force or ban the use of prayer. If you wanted to you could label me a heathen, rip up my article and write an entire pamphlet about nonbelievers — I’d defend your right to do so until my dying day. Not because I agree with you or think it will lead to some moral rebirth, but because you have the right to believe anything you want. So as an agnostic, I pray to whatever God is out there that Allen never forces anyone to go to church.

Reach the columnist at Alec.Grafil@asu.edu or follow @AlecGrafil on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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