Sen. Clarence Blount says he believes the right of religious sanctuary ought to be ensured in Maryland.
And that is why the Baltimore Democrat has introduced a bill that would prohibit police from arresting anyone while in a church, synagogue or place of worship unless someone's life is in danger.
"I introduced the bill because I thought it making arrests in church was wrong," Blount said. "I do not believe that police have the right to intrude that way."
Police could make the arrest when the person left the church or at the person's home, Blount said.
The Baltimore lawmaker said he decided to introduce the legislation after reading recently about an incident in which police invaded a church to arrest someone.
If police are at liberty to make arrests in church, then nobody could be assured of holding a service in peace, Blount said.
The bill does allow an officer to make an arrest inside a house of worship if someone's life is in danger.
If someone is holding the minister and congregation hostage, police should be allowed to enter the church and make the arrest, Blount said.
"There used to be, in western Europe, the right of sanctuary," Blount said. "But I'm unsure of its status in America." he said.
The bill defines places of worship as a church, synagogue or any building used primarily for worship.
If passed, the bill would take effect in July.
While he has not talked with church leaders about the measure, Blount said, he expects them to support it.
Blount said he anticipates no legislative opposition to the bill, which has been assigned to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee for discussion.
Committee Chairman Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George's, said he had no opinion on the measure because he has not yet read the bill.