Church leader speaks out on statewide Stand Your Ground amendment

Updated: Sep. 21, 2020 at 9:43 PM CDT
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RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The general election is just a few short weeks away. There are 6 statewide amendments voters will decide on, November 3rd. The sponsor of one of two bills talks about what this could mean for churches in Franklin and Lauderdale Counties.

Churches oversee not only your soul but your safety. Neil Rogers, Senior Pastor at Tharptown Baptist Church doesn’t take that responsibility lightly.

“Here at Tharptown we have security people that are trained and watch out,” said Neil Rogers, Senior Pastor at Tharptown Baptist Church.

Rogers is keeping a close eye on two statewide amendments on the November ballot. They are specific only to Franklin and Lauderdale Counties. They specify that church members in those counties can use deadly force if they feel threatened in their places of worship.

“For us as a rural church I believe this amendment is important to make sure we have an opportunity to keep our people safe,” said Rogers.

State Representative Jamie Kiel sponsors the bill for Franklin County. He’s says if the statewide constitutional amendment passes it would give more legal protection to church security teams forced to stand their ground at their houses of worship.

“The stand your ground law obviously allows you to protect yourself and those that are around you this enhances that and allows a security team member to pursue a threat in case there is something on the church grounds that might be of harm to a church member," said Jamie Kiel, (R) State Representative for District 18.

Church safety is something all congregations are concerned about. While it’s difficult to think of someone wanting to cause harm to people attending worship services, it’s a reality churches must be prepared to deal with.

“We do want our people to feel safe and feel like they can come and worship without any kind of fear of someone coming in and taking their life,” said Rogers.

In order to pass, this measure requires a majority vote of approval statewide as well as a majority of voters in Franklin and Lauderdale Counties. Kiel says he feels this amendment could pave the way for other churches .

“I believe churches statewide need this protection and I think it will open their eyes to the need in their church and their districts,” said Kiel.

Colbert County will also vote on the same measure in November, but the vote will stay local. Franklin and Lauderdale counties amendment must be put to a statewide vote because there was one opposing vote in the House.

That means voters statewide and local, will decide the outcome of amendment 5 and 6.

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