Mississippi’s ‘Jesus Take The Wheel’ Bill Will Allow Church Buses To Be Driven Without Proper License

Mississippi lawmakers seem to think the expression “Jesus is my co-pilot” should be taken literally. In an effort to help out churches, a bill has been introduced into the state legislature that would exempt the drivers of church buses from having to get a commercial driver’s license that proves they know how to operate a vehicle of that size. Meet the “Jesus Take the Wheel Act.”

Supporters of the bill say the exemption will allow smaller churches to afford bus drivers.

“This just allows small churches, some don’t have people with commercial licenses at all, and they can pick a person to drive the bus,” said state Rep. Robert Johnson III, D-Natchez, who chairs the Transportation Committee which had passed the bill earlier in the session. [source]

Which makes a certain sort of sense, as long as you pretend “saving money” for small churches more than makes up for the risk of “costing lives.” Anticipating a tragedy, state Rep. Toby Barker (R) blasted the idea, citing the fact that the bill would allow practically anyone to drive people, including small children, around without any sort of formal training or requisites.

It was Barker who coined the term “Jesus Take the Wheel Act.” And while he was presumably being sardonic, he isn’t far off. The bill only gives the exemption to churches; every other driver of passenger vehicles holding more than 16 people must be certified. It seems lawmakers believe drivers working in the capacity of church employees have some miraculous ability to avoid accidents that other drivers may get into.

The Clarion-Ledger spoke with an actual CDL-certified driver about the proposal and he felt it was nuts:

“I think this bill is trading the safety of everyone on the road for the convenience of those operating church vehicles,” [Troy] Coll said. “Since the bill covers vehicles up to 30 passengers, we’re not just talking vans with extra rows of seats – these are buses, with long frames and much larger blind spots than passenger vehicles.”

As to whether Jesus does in fact take the wheel around bad drivers? Anecdotal evidence suggests not. In 2014, an Indiana woman reported hearing the voice of God telling her to let go of the steering wheel because He would take it from there. So in a leap of faith she let go. And she immediately crashed into a motorcyclist.

Despite the common sense opposition, the bill looks to be on its way to becoming law. This isn’t necessarily surprising for Mississippi. The state has been on a Christianity-based lawmaking tear lately. In January, lawmakers came together to designate the Bible as the state book because of “all the things going wrong in the world.” A few months earlier, Christian groups were buzzing about the idea of letting voters decide whether to declare Mississippi a “Christian state” in a ballot measure in 2016. Presumably, soon they will be driven to the polls in a bus driven by Jesus – who may or may not know how to drive a bus.

h/t the Friendly Atheist Blog | Feature image via Jacopo Romel/Flickr