The Corner

Does the Gun-Control Legislation Violate Separation of Church and State?

Call the ACLU and Barry Lynn right now! Some religious fanatic is urging Congress to enact laws imposing his narrow biblical morality on the rest of us. Doesn’t he know we have an Establishment Clause protecting us from such crassfundamentalism? This Taliban-like pastor, probably poised to use tactics vaguely reminiscent of the Inquisition, is the Reverend Gary Hall, the dean of the Washington National Cathedral, and a leader in the Episcopal Church. The Washington Post, in a long article praising his political activism, quoted from his recent sermon, preached from the pulpit of the National Cathedral, urging passage of proposed gun-control legislation:

“In the spirit of Dr. King, I want to say that opposing gun violence may have political implications, but it is not primarilya political issue. It is a religious issue,” Hall preached. “If we want to stand with Jesus and with Martin Luther King, we’ve also got to stand with those who, like them, die by means of violence. And that means we who follow Jesus and stand with King have to stand against guns.

And Reverend Hall is working to pass gun-control legislation in Congress. Wow, this reeks of religion! Sound the Establishment Clause alarm. If some lawmakers vote for the bill because they believe it is what the Bible teaches them to do, then the law would clearly lack a “secular purpose” and breach the “wall of separation” the Constitution erects to protect us from religious zealots like Reverend Hall. I look forward to the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State denouncing Reverend Hall’s efforts, and their lawsuits to invalidate any such religion-soaked legislation that passes Congress. ACLU? Barry Lynn? Hello, Hello? Are you there?

— Jordan Lorence is senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom.

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