A Thomaston preacher wants the U.S. Supreme Court to rule he has the legal right to pack his pistol when hes in the pulpit.
The Rev. Jonathan Wilkins attorney in the legal fight, which also includes GeorgiaCarry.org and his church, the Baptist Tabernacle of Thomaston, posted a copy of the legal document on GeorgiaCarry.orgs website Tuesday. Attorney John Monroe said the appeal should have been filed Tuesday. The U.S. Supreme Court would likely decide in December or January whether to hear the case.
State law prohibits the carrying of weapons in churches. Such gun control laws are often challenged using the Second Amendment, which covers the right to bear arms. This appeal is shaped around the First Amendment right to practice religion.
The firearms advocates were defeated in the federal District Court in Macon, and then lost in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Georgia has argued that religious freedoms dont come into play unless the state law interferes with religious beliefs.
The opponents of the law say it interferes with religious practice by regulating how or what a worshipper can do with a weapon while he is worshipping. ... On the other hand, the same worshipper is not burdened at all in the carriage of his weapon when he goes to the bank, eats dinner and has cocktails at a restaurant, rides a city bus, or walks down the street. In other words, when the conduct is purely secular and unrelated to the place of worship, the Carry Ban does not apply, Monroe wrote in the petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Monroe wrote that the Appeals Court ruling logically means that states are free to inconvenience worshippers as worshippers as long as they do so in a secular way, such as by having tougher building codes for churches or banning playground equipment from churches.
Much of the legal basis for the appeal hinges on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared unconstitutional a ban on animal sacrifices being used in a Santeria church.
The appeal is filed against Georgia and its governor, as well as Upson County and its manager.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, 744-4251.