by Jerry Cox, president of Family Council of Arkansas
Family Policy Alliance is proud to work alongside Family Council of Arkansas. They are part of our alliance of 40 state-based family organizations. For more information, or to find one in your state, go to familypolicyalliance.com.
The other day as I was reviewing a slate of bills that have been proposed at the Arkansas Legislature, it occurred to me that there are so many ways that a church can be a force for good in a community. Churches serve their neighborhoods – especially the poor and needy. Churches are often some of the first to provide for the victims of natural disasters, such as floods and tornadoes.
I think we would all agree that Bible-believing churches share the gospel with nonbelievers and make their communities better. But what if I told you even a church building itself can make a community more wholesome? What if I told you those four walls do more than give believers a place to meet – they actually keep certain types of evil out of our neighborhoods?
Under Arkansas law, adult-oriented businesses cannot operate within 1,000 feet of a church. Liquor stores, likewise, cannot be located within 1,000 feet of a church. Penalties for certain crimes – such as illegal drug deals and drug use – are enhanced if they occur within 1,000 feet of a church. “Medical Marijuana” stores cannot operate within 1,500 feet of a church, and marijuana farms cannot operate within 3,000 feet of a church.
I realize the “church” is more than just four walls and steeple. Believers are the true church. I also realize you can’t completely rid a community of sin. However, just having those four walls and steeple in your neighborhood repels some types of evil. It keeps certain vices away from our children and our neighbors. It makes our communities more wholesome – often without anyone noticing.
I believe most people probably take good things churches bring to Arkansas for granted. But if the churches disappeared – along with all the good things they bring to the table – people would notice.
Our world is wrestling with some serious questions right now. From top to bottom, many days it feels like our nation is losing its mind. It reminds me of the prophet Amos, who wrote, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it” (Amos 8:11-12,KJV).
Now more than ever we need churches to engage the culture. Churches are already a powerful force for good simply by being present in our state. Many churches run food pantries that help families facing physical hunger. We need believers to help those starving for the Truth of God’s Word as well.
Now more than ever we need churches to engage the culture. In the past six weeks Family Council has issued more calls to action than I can count. We have asked people to call their state representatives and senators time and time again. That’s because our lawmakers need to hear the truth about the important issues they are voting on. They need to hear it from Family Council, but they also need to hear it from their neighbors back home.