Quietly, over the past decades.....folks have kinda noted a trend where everybody and their brother....wanted local forests, wetlands, and rivers....under some federal umbrella. Usually, it was either the National Forests folks, or the National Parks folks.
In the past couple of weeks....up in Missouri....folks woke up and suddenly realized that the federal side of their local rivers (those under the federal umbrella).....have a new rule.
The rule? If you are a church group and desiring to hold a baptismal service on the federally-controlled river, then you need a permit.
You can imagine the scene. Reverend Bob got all fired up and wants to hold a baptism service down on a scenic area with some rapid off in the distance. It used to be simple....you directed the whole church to show up and you conducted some service, then jumped right into the water. A line of folks would make it's way to the water, and Reverend Bob would do his work.
To make this work? Reverend Bob would have to show up at some National Park Service office, and talk to Ranger Karl. The spot had to be agreed upon, and it had to meet federal safety standards. It's best not to ask who the heck wrote the standards (probably some gal from Seattle who never visited this particular state in her life).
All of this federal permit business gets folks riled up. There's at least one Congressman who got involved in the mess with the Park Service, and this is getting lots of press within religious circles in Missouri.
The thing is.....as folks were all happy to have the federal projects, federal money, and federal management to arrive and help their little neck of the woods.....they never asked questions. They assumed that rules would be kept to a minimum. They guessed wrong.
So in the last couple of days.....the National Park Service sat down with the Congressman and ironed out an agreement of sorts. The permit business? It's kinda dissolved. The wording on this agreement is not that clear. I'm guessing that they insisted on some areas being off-limits because dangers. It would appear that they lead the various groups to a preferred spot for the baptism business.
For now, things are progressing in a positive fashion. No federal folks standing in the way of an old-fashioned religious episode.
I suspect the National Park Service management folks woke up and kinda realized that folks might just show up and do a baptism without a permit. Then you'd have to hire more rangers to enforce the rule. And then you'd end up with folks dragged into some federal court.....because of illegal baptisms on federal property. The judge would have sat there...mostly laughing...and dismissing case after case. The American system of justice....just wasn't made to handle dimwitted situations like this.
Yeah, some folks might say that the hand of God was at work on this whole business. I'd prefer to say that some over-zealous management folks woke up and realized their mistake.