Catholic League reports on Nebraska legislation that would remove religious exemptions for underage drinking of wine. Christian communion and Jewish Passover practice would be illegal. State Senator Lowen Kruse introduced the bill–and he’s a Methodist minister.
Another account says,
Kruse said churches have alternatives to serving wine, including substituting grape juice for alcohol. Many churches, including the United Methodist Church, already do this.
But it’s not a matter of simply substituting juice for wine, said Jim Cunningham, executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference. The use of wine “has a deep meaning . . . Theologically and liturgically, that is not acceptable.”
Kruse, whose son was left paralyzed by an 18-year-old drunken driver, is proposing to eliminate a state exemption that allows minors to drink alcohol at home or in places of worship for bona fide religious rites.
Generally, Kruse said, the amount of wine served in religious rites is so negligible that he doesn’t foresee police or prosecutors enforcing a ban on sacred wine if one were enacted. Such actions would amount to “frivolous” prosecution, he said.
Still, Kruse said, he sees the elimination of the exemption as important to his overall message: “Kids can’t consume alcohol. Period.”
Latest story says he’s willing to compromise, but religious liberty advocates still see his proposed compromise as absurd.
His revised version would likely allow minors to consume up to two ounces of alcohol as a part of a religious ceremony.
That would expand the exemption to Jewish ceremonies conducted at home, said Kruse, a retired minister in the Methodist Church, where grape juice is used in ceremonies.
It would accommodate the little glasses Lutherans use, he said, and the communion cup for Catholics.
But Jim Cunningham, who represents the Nebraska Catholic Conference, said the simplest solution is to keep the current language allowing youth to use alcohol at a place of worship in a religious ceremony.
“I cannot imagine there is a shred of evidence that young people receiving holy communion have caused any problem relating to consumption of alcohol,” he said. “Without any evidence of that I cannot fathom on what basis there is a need to eliminate that exception.”