How Does Your State Rank in Church Attendance?

A new Gallup poll offers some clues about Americans’ church attendance—and the sizeable difference depending on the state where you live.

Gallup asked 177,030 American adults, “How often do you attend church, synagogue or mosque—at least once a week, almost every week, about once a month, seldom or never?” It ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia according to how many responded that they attend religious services “at least once a week.”

Residents of Utah are most likely to attend a religious service weekly. According to Gallup, Utah owes its No. 1 ranking to Mormons, who “have the highest religious service attendance of any major religious group in the U.S.”

Utah is followed by Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Residents of Vermont are least likely to attend church weekly, followed by New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and Washington State. Gallup notes that the New England region reports the lowest levels of church attendance in the nation, with Connecticut and Rhode Island not far behind the rest of the region, at Nos. 10 and 17, respectively.

By Kate Scanlon – The Daily Signal –

Virginia mulls ConCon effort to rein in federal powers

Virginia is one of the latest states involved in a new push for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution in a bid to rein in the federal government — part of a nascent campaign on an issue states have been grappling with since at least the 18th century.

National and state GOP leaders are supportive of the idea, saying that a convention of the states is needed to stop an out-of-control federal government, but some conservatives say such a gathering could end up as a free-for-all and risk radically altering the founding document.

Resolutions calling for a convention to limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government and impose term limits on members of Congress recently advanced out of committees in Virginia’s House and Senate, along with separate resolutions calling specifically for a balanced budget amendment.

Michael Farris, a former GOP nominee for Virginia lieutenant governor, is helping spearhead the push for a convention of the states, a project of the group Citizens for Self-Governance.

The movement is nothing new, but Mr. Farris said he got the idea for a renewed effort after the 2012 election. He said it made sense legally and politically to start fresh rather than try to build on prior disparate efforts that have seen mixed results.

At least 34 states, or two-thirds, must pass applications for a convention and ultimately would need a sign-off from Congress….

Article V of the U.S. Constitution allows Congress to propose amendments, but it states that “on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, [Congress] shall call a convention for proposing amendments.”

Rather than calling for a specific amendment, this particular movement is calling for a convention of the states to reduce the power and scope of the federal government. The language in Virginia’s proposals specifically call for a convention to pass amendments “that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.”

The Republican-controlled House of Delegates voted down a similar resolution during last year’s session, and the fate of this year’s effort is still very much up in the air.

Three states — Alaska, Georgia and Florida — passed the group’s convention of states application last year, and lawmakers in a dozen states are considering them this year….

By David Sherfinski – The Washington Times –

Five states have plans to combat police brutality

The latter half of 2014 was defined by a new and widespread recognition of the problem of police brutality in America. The issue was catapulted to national attention in the wake of the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice, as well as the excessively aggressive police response to protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.

Police militarization—most concretely evidenced in law enforcement’s use of military weapons and vehicles acquired as hand-me-downs from the Pentagon—is a major contributing factor to the systemic problem of police brutality. Still, despite recent events, essentially no progress has been made in Washington toward eliminating the now-controversial 1033 program, which make these deadly gifts possible.

Sen. Rand Paul and a handful of other Senators harshly criticized the 1033 transfers this past fall, and a bipartisan pair of representatives proposed a bill in the House which would have taken some steps toward reforming the program.

But that bill has been stalled in committee since the day it was introduced back in September, and if past votes on similar proposals were any indication, it probably wouldn’t pass even if it did make it to the House floor.

If Paul keeps his promise to introduce anti-militarization legislation in the Senate this year, it too may meet a similar fate—and should a police demilitarization bill somehow make it through both houses of Congress, a veto from President Obama seems all but guaranteed….

But fortunately, we don’t have to wait for Washington to get its act together to demilitarize our police forces.

Five states in particular are leading the way in practical, achievable, local reforms:

In New Hampshire, the state legislature is considering a bill that would ban police departments from obtaining military equipment that is “not readily available in an open national commercial market.” If it passes, HB407—also known as the PEACE Act (Police Equipment And Community Engagement)—will effectively nullify the 1033 program within NH borders, requiring law enforcement to deal with crime using tools and vehicles more befitting of police work.

In Tennessee, state Sen. Brian Kelsey has introduced a bill, SB0039, which not only prohibits police use of military equipment but also requires departments to get rid of any military vehicles or weapons they already own by the beginning of next year. “Traditionally, America has had a clear separation between the military and the police to ensure we remain in a free democracy,” Kelsey says. “I think we can support both our police officers and our citizens by ensuring that our police officers are not viewed as the enemy.”

In California, a state assembly bill under consideration won’t eliminate police use of military equipment, but it will give citizens a more transparent process for achieving that goal at a city level. AB36 stipulates that police departments can’t receive military equipment from the Pentagon unless it’s approved by the town council at a public meeting first….

By Bonnie Kristian – Rare –