As a resident of rural North Carolina, northeastern Cabarrus County to be exact, I live in a community where hunting is a way of life as well as “church on Sunday.” I understand and equally value both, and I do not see where either is in conflict with the other.
I’ve read arguments both for and against House Bill 640 to allow hunting on Sundays. My personal experience as a chaplain and minister is that we live in a state and country where our liberty is greatly valued. Whether individuals exercise that liberty to hunt or attend church, it should be what they choose to do.
As a chaplain serving the NASCAR community, I and my organization provide the opportunity for men and women to attend services on Friday, Saturday or Sunday of any given weekend. The key here is we provide the opportunity, and they choose to attend.
Also, as a father of four, I greatly value the opportunity to pick and choose when and where I attend church. For my family, it never looks the same week-in and week-out. Times of the year, work, seasons and family needs all play into the decisions we make regarding church attendance. For many in the community where I live, hunting is a way to provide for their families. For some I know, the ability to hunt means the difference in the meat they will have as a family to get them through the year.
It is also a key component of strengthening the family bond that may be fully realized only by those who hunt. I have seen firsthand where hunting has drawn fathers closer to their sons by the time spent in the woods, especially in their teenage years when young men and women alike are developing their personal identities, self-confidence and skills to provide for their future families. For those who are intentional, there is also a tremendous opportunity to learn more about God being in the midst of His creation.
Another interesting observation is the effect this has had on small businesses in our community. A seventh day of hunting would allow many a much-needed additional day to generate income. For example, during deer hunting season, most of the local restaurants and small businesses open earlier than usual so hunters can grab breakfast before they head out. For those of us in ministry, we should see this as an opportunity to meet with men and women who have a common interest, hunting in this case, and engage them around the breakfast table.
To my minister friends who may be concerned about a drop in church attendance, I would simply encourage them to follow the model laid out in Scripture and go to where the people are. It is amazing the difference in attitude and attention you experience when you go to the people versus waiting on them to come to you.
To limit hunting on Sunday simply makes no sense based upon Scripture and practical experience. Taking any liberties from us as citizens, which in no way affects the well-being and liberties of others, makes no sense. For the “church” and church leaders to stand in the way of N.C. House Bill 640, the extending of the opportunity for individuals and families in North Carolina to hunt seven days a week, is simply, as we say in my neck of the woods, “plowing your neighbor’s field crossways.”
Billy E. Mauldin Jr. of Mount Pleasant is chaplain, president and chief executive officer of Motor Racing Outreach.