Recently, it has become increasingly obvious that Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion are under attack in East Tennessee. Let me explain my thoughts on the Freedom of Religion.
Andrew Hamblin, a young Pastor in Lafollette, TN that appears in a new reality television show on National Geographic received a visit from the TWRA (Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency) at his home this week asking about his practice of “taking up the serpent” in church services. They also inquired if he had venomous snakes. He informed them at an undisclosed location. They asked if the location was his church. Being a man of God, I assume he did not want to lie and said yes. I am also assuming that he was adhering God’s instruction to render to Caesar (government) that which is Caesar and following the questioning of the governmental authorities. After reading today’s newspaper article, I can see where he would assume that with our Freedom of Religion that the state authorities would NOT violate his Freedom of Religion and go into his church building.
Well, they did and they reportedly seized 50 snakes. Yesterday on the social media site, twitter, I asked State Senator Frank Nicely about this issue. Primarily, because he has introduced legislation in the past to reel in the out of control bureaucracy that is TWRA. In responding to me, he stated that he had a constituent that called TWRA about needing a snake removed from inside her house and they told her to go it alone.
Here is my thought, the great majority of the snakes they seized were snakes he had I am assuming had caught from the wild. Granted the TWRA report that there were one or two “exotic snakes” that are not native to the area. But, for the most part, he had “rescued” them from a life of being shot by hunters of game.
While I am a believer and follower of Christ. God has not spoken to me to “take up the serpent” However, I am not saying that he hasn’t or doesn’t tell Pastor Hamblin to do it. I will not judge the Pastor’s walk, his faith or the manner in which God is using him to reach the people of Campbell County.
I just believe that the State of Tennessee through it’s TWRA agency has infringed on the people of that church and that Pastor and hey have taken the State and inserted it inside the church ie. religion. That is an over reach in my opinion and violates their right to practice religion freely.
Read this story from the NY Daily News and respond to their poll asking if the state violated his right of freedom of religion.