Alabama Bill would allow Church to form Police Department

A megachurch in suburban Birmingham, Alabama may become the first church in the state to form its own police department if a new bill in the Alabama legislature is approved and signed into law.

Senate Majority Leader J. T. “Jabo” Waggoner sponsored SB193, which was approved last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee and is now to be voted on in the Senate.

According to the Associated Press, Briarwood Presbyterian Church, which has 4,100 members would be the first church in the state with a police department.  The church also has a theological seminary with 2,000 teachers and students, and the leadership claims that they would like to protect themselves.

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Church administrator Matt Moore told NBC News, “After the shooting at Sandy Hook and in the wake of similar assaults at churches and schools, Briarwood recognized the need to provide qualified first responders to coordinate with local law enforcement.”

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Frankly, I don’t see it as such a bad thing.  Others, wrongly argue from the First Amendment of the US Constitution to say that allowing churches to operate a police department would enable them to cover up crimes.

“Vesting state police powers in a church police force violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” wrote ACLU Acting Executive Director Randall Marshall to state representatives. “These bills unnecessarily carve out special programs for religious organizations and inextricably intertwine state authority and power with church operations.”

I would argue that is not true anymore of local police departments nor college police departments.  In fact, in a Presbyterian church, there is a hierarchy of more churches that would oversee the particular church that had the police department, making it more difficult for there to be a cover up of a crime.

As for Mr. Marshall, he forgets that the First Amendment is about what the US Congress cannot do.  It has nothing to do with the states.  Still, he claims that the law would not be able to stand against a legal challenge.

Democrat State Senator Rodger Smitherman said, “I voted to get it out of committee after getting assurances that they would act like a real police force and they would not be an agency that covers things up.”

Due to the remote area of the church, that is why they are making the request.  Frankly, simply allowing everyone attending to keep and bear their arms should be enough to protect themselves, as well as those that attend with them.  Local police claim there are two deputy sheriffs who patrol the area and the need for the church to have a police force is unnecessary.

That is silly.  The old saying is still true, “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.”

In this case, the police would be right there on sight.  Why is this a problem?  Furthermore, this seems to be something that can be taken care of by the congregation of the church for the most part without possibly adding a tax burden on the public.

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