Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Wednesday, June 18, 2003
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Separation of Church and State?

My wife forwarded me an e-mail that contained this snippet about Minnesota's new Conceal/Carry Law:

As many of you know the Personal Protection Act of 2003 was recently signed into law by Governor Pawlenty. Among the provisions of this law were the specific requirements that any private organization desiring to ban firearms from its premises post signs at least 11"x17" in size, in Arial type face at least 1 1/2" tall, within four feet of every public entry, that says, "Firearms are banned on these premises". In addition, the law requires that personal notification be made, verbally or in writing, to each visitor, every time (there is some ambiguity about whether a printed bulletin announced adequately addresses this provision).

A lawsuit has been filed by David Lillehaug on behalf of the Edina Community Lutheran Church, and a rapidly growing list of churches and synagogues, that challenges the constitutionality of these notification provisions, arguing that in matters that affect religious beliefs (belief in the non-violent thrust of the gospel, e.g.) the state does not have the right to decide how those beliefs will be expressed. In other words, the suit challenges the right of the state to dictate how religious beliefs are communicated (the signs, the personal notifications). The deepest concern of religious groups is that the establishment of this law sets a precedent that risks further impingements on religious freedom in areas that may have nothing whatever to do with the content of this particular law (i.e., the bearing of firearms in public places).

An interesting gambit, and I'm not sure how I feel about it, or how successful it will be. The law does seem patently absurd (read lines 27.35 to 28.30), but I'm not entirely convinced this is a church/state issue. Yes, the sign specifications are supremely silly sounding, but we have similar laws here in Vermont regarding posted land, and I wonder if this is just something we have to do to protect ourselves from gun-slingers and hunters and not a restriction on expression...


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A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.

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