BEAUMONT, Texas — There are eight propositions on ballot for the upcoming 2021 Constitutional Amendment and Joint Election, and proposition 3 is gaining a great deal of attention in Southeast Texas.
Proposition 3 regards restrictions on religious services. If passed, the amendment would block the state government from prohibiting in-person church services.
Those against the proposition believe not passing it would make it difficult to limit large gatherings such as in-person church services in the event of another pandemic. Those in favor believe it should be up to church leaders to temporarily shutdown places of worship, not the government.
The issue stems from pandemic stay-at-home orders, when some people questioned why places of worship remained closed while other business began to reopen.
“This came during the pandemic, when the governor issued some stay-at-home orders and it affected churches too, and churches couldn't meet, and some conservatives were upset with this, so they want this amendment introduced,” Tom Taschinger, political expert, said.
Taschinger believes a vote for proposition 3 would open the door for abuse of the law.
“What if a church wanted to have a service at 3 a.m., with loud music, or let people park on the street in front of their facility, and then if the city or county tried to change this they'd say, ‘You know, well you're trying to limit our services. You can't do that,’” Taschinger said.
Kenneth Bean, pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church, would vote for the proposition. However, he does understand why some would vote against it.
Bean believes the state government should leave the decision to temporarily stop in-person services to church leaders. However, Bean understands why some might want the state government to intervene, as some churches stayed open at the height of the pandemic, he said.
“We should be looking to God for direction as the scripture teaches us, and that we should make those decisions without the government having to be involved at all,” Bean said.
Bean’s decision to scale back services at his church during the pandemic helped prevent the spread of COVID-19 without the government getting involved, he said. This is why he supports proposition 3.
Other Southeast Texas pastors when given the chance also voluntarily moved church services online.
“We believed then that it was the right decision, and I still believe it was," Randy Feldschau, pastor at One City church in Beaumont, said.
Feldschau had the ability to opt for virtual services, while others churches were required to due to local and state mandates. A little more than a year ago, Feldschau made the decision to take services back online as COVID-19 numbers surged in Southeast Texas.
The 2021 Constitutional Amendment and Joint Election is Tuesday November 2.