Friday, January 19, 2007

Banning Alcohol in Church


Utah law makes very few exceptions for underage drinking. Nebraska makes about the same number of exceptions as Utah, but a certain lawmaker wants to change that. He wants to change the liquor laws with regard to religious services. Representatives of some Nebraska religious communities have expressed displeasure.

Seven states prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from drinking alcohol. Twenty-one states have no laws against underage drinking whatsoever. The other 22 states, including Utah, provide some exceptions to their underage drinking laws. Exceptions to Utah liquor laws, according to this site, are:

Utah does make an exception permitting minors to consume alcohol for certain specific medical, religious or educational purposes, such as communion wine. The law also permits minors to purchase liquor for law enforcement purposes.

The state of Nebraska has a religious exception very similar to Utah's. Except Nebraska State Senator Lowen Kruse wants to change that limitation.

It's interesting to note that Senator Kruse's son was paralyzed in an accident caused by a drunk driver. I can see he desire not to let similar problems occur, and I agree that people who drive while intoxicated often get off with a far smaller penalty than they should. But I think Senator Kruse's efforts are misguided.

His current legislation would make it legal for youths to consume up to one half ounce of alcohol in religious services, but no more. Clearly the customary communion would not require more than this amount to be consumed per person, so I'm not sure of the Senator's point. There are very few instances, if any, where youth have emerged from religious services in an inebriated state, let alone causing any kind of ruckus or committing any kind of crime.

There are too many laws on the books as it is. We need to trim the fat from our state and federal codes. The laws we have should be significant, important, understandable, and enforceable. Senator Kruze's bill appears to be none of those.

2 comments:

  1. There are a variety of reasons we have superflouous laws. In a representative government we end up with a number of politicians that derive power among political peers via the process of passing bills. The usefulness of the bills passed is not necessarily the primary motivator.

    Also, politicians seeking re-election want to have some resume builders that resonate well with voters. Sometimes this comes down to how good a piece of legislation can made to sound to voters, regardless of whether it tends toward good government or not.

    This can lead to politicians trolling for someone saying, "The government ought to do someting about that," so that they can seem like the solution. Of course, most of the time somebody says something like that, they are mistaken.

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  2. Scott,

    This is an excellent observation that I don't think about often.

    If bugs me when, at the end of the legislative session, the local newspapers identify the legislative stars by how many bills they sponsored and passed. I guess it would be pretty hard for a legislator not to fall for this temptation.

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