Soldiers of God: Churchgoers With Police Powers in Mississippi


On April 15, Mississippi Governor, Phil Bryant, signed House Bill 786 – the “Mississippi Church Protection Act” – into law.

Bill 786 allows the governing body of any church, or place of worship, to establish a security program where designated church members are allowed to carry firearms. It allows these designated members to carry holstered weapons, or weapons in handbags, without a permit.

Bill 786 also provides protection for these designated members stating:

“A member of the security program will be immune from civil liability for any action taken by a member of the security program if the action occurs during the reasonable exercise of and within the course and scope of the member’s official duties.”
Republican State Representative, Andy Gipson, said he wrote the bill in response to the June 2015 Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church mass shooting by a white man in South Carolina, which killed nine people. Gipson said the legislation is designed to give churches an opportunity to defend themselves against such attacks.

The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) has celebrated the signing of Bill 786 as a pro-Second Amendment victory. NRA-ILA’s executive director, Chris W. Cox said: “It’s a great day for law-abiding gun owners in Mississippi. This will allow them to carry firearms for personal protection in the manner that best suits their needs.”

Other groups have expressed concern that Bill 786 allows “soldiers of God” have the authority to shoot and kill like police officers, but with less government oversight.

In response to Gov. Bryant signing the “Mississippi Church Protection Act,” Larry T. Decker, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America, said:

“Governor Bryant’s decision to sign the Church Protection Act into law shows a reckless disregard for the safety of Mississippians and the First Amendment of our Constitution.
Church security teams now have legal protections normally reserved for law enforcement, applicable at any church sponsored event in any location where firearms are not explicitly prohibited. A peaceful demonstration of a church sponsored event in Mississippi is now only a hair trigger away from escalating into a tragedy.
Religious institutions are already exempt from taxation, financial transparency, and many civil rights laws. By signing this bill, Governor Bryant has now exempted them from homicide.”

The Mississippi Police Chief’s Association (MPCA) also slammed the bill before its signing. MPCA’s executive director, Ken Winter, expressed serious misgivings about the bill “effectively dismantling Mississippi’s licensing system.”

Eliminating the need to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon would “block law enforcement who stop an armed suspect from confirming he isn’t a violent criminal, severely mentally ill or otherwise dangerous,” said Winter.

At a time when deaths from police shootings in the US are terrifyingly common, and justice for these shootings so elusive, is it wise to give churchgoers the same powers with less government oversight?

This article (Soldiers of God: Churchgoers With Police Powers in Mississippi) is a free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author Bullseye and


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  1. I had a dream about this 2 years ago. The last dream I had at 5:23am I heard a voice just like our’s say to me, “Prepare for the Mount of Olives. What did Jesus do here? 😉


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