Lawmaker calls mandatory church comment 'flippant,' but concern about 'moral erosion' real

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |
During a committee hearing concerning a gun bill, Sen. Sylvia Allen, (R) of Snowflake suggested a bill enforcing church attendance and criticized America's "eroding religion." | YouTube/Scott Berlin

PHOENIX, Ariz. (Christian Examiner) -- A media firestorm engulfed an Arizona state senator after a gun bill debate March 24 led her to comment America could benefit from a bill requiring all citizens to attend church.

During a committee hearing about concealed weapon permits, Sen. Sylvia Allen (R) of Snowflake decried the nation's "eroding religion," called for a "moral rebirth" and remarked that a bill enforcing church attendance would be a good fix, according to KPHO News.

Allen told the committee she intended to vote yes for a measure that would legalize carrying permitted concealed weapons into public buildings -- because the collapse of society has left Americans feeling the need to carry a weapon.

"I believe what's happening to our country is that there is a horrible erosion of the soul of America," Allen said. "You can use knives, you can use whatever, it is the soul that is corrupt. And how we get back to a moral rebirth in this country I don't know since we are slowly eroding religion in every opportunity that we have."

The senator went on to suggest the committee would be better served working on "a bill requiring every American to attend a church of their choice on Sunday to see if we can get back to having a moral rebirth."

Allen clarified that she was speaking with hyperbole -- that such a measure "would not be allowed and we would not even be debating that" -- however immediate criticism ensued from other legislators, including Democratic Sen. Steve Farley of Tucson who posted Allen's comments on Twitter.

The Arizona Capitol Times reported Allen also later explained her comment as "flippant." Still, she held fast to her claims about the nation's moral decay, pointing to cultural changes since her youth in the 1950's as the cause for America's ills.

"People prayed, people went to church," Allen said. "I remember on Sundays the stores were closed.

"The biggest thing," she added, "is religion was kicked out of our public places, out of our schools."