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Alabama Governor Quietly Signs Law Allowing Mega-Church a Private Police Force
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=51202"><span class="small">Elinor Aspegren, USA Today</span></a>   
Sunday, 21 July 2019 08:23

Aspegren writes: "Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has signed legislation allowing a mega-church to establish its own police force, despite threats of a legal challenge."

Govenor Kay Ivey of Alabama. (photo: Brynn Anderson/AP)
Govenor Kay Ivey of Alabama. (photo: Brynn Anderson/AP)


Alabama Governor Quietly Signs Law Allowing Mega-Church a Private Police Force

By Elinor Aspegren, USA Today

21 July 19

 

labama Gov. Kay Ivey has signed legislation allowing a mega-church to establish its own police force, despite threats of a legal challenge. 

The law, which was approved quietly two weeks ago, allows Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham to set-up a private law enforcement department to make arrests when crimes are committed on its properties, according to the Associated Press. 

Church officials say the measure is necessary to provide adequate security for the 2,000 students and faculty on its two private school campuses, the AP said.

According to AL.com, Briarwood Presbyterian Church averages 2,800 to 3,600 worshipers per week, making it one of the three biggest churches in Alabama. The church also has Briarwood Christian School, a private K-12 institution, with an enrollment of 1,875 students, and a theological seminary. 

Per the website, the officers will have to complete state certified training by the Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission and be trained on the proper use of a non-lethal weapon.

Briarwood Presbyterian Church told WBRC in Birmingham in a statement that they are grateful to the governor and our elected officials for approving their request to be added to existing Alabama law. 

Existing law "allows certain educational institutions to appoint and employ one or more suitable persons to act as police officers to keep off intruders and prevent trespass upon the institution property," they wrote. 

"The institutions currently provided the protection under this statute include a number that have less students than does Briarwood Christian School."

A similar measure, first proposed four years ago, was dropped in 2017 after opponents argued that it grants government power to a religious institution in violation of the Establishment Clause, according Birmingham Watch, an Alabama initiative for independent journalism.

Previously, the ACLU of Alabama wrote in a statement that "these attempts to undermine the separation of church and state are a threat to our freedom of religion and a violation of the Establishment Clause."

Randall Marshall, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama, told AP he expects the law, which goes into effect in the fall, will be challenged in the courts.

Others say that the church has a history of racism, sexism and homophobia

According to an op-ed on AL.com, which references the Colorado Springs Gazette, the main push that caused the church's split from the greater Presbyterian organization was other churches' willingness to integrate. The church is a member of the conservative Presbyterian Church in America denomination.

According to the church's website, Briarwood severed its ties with the Boys Scouts of America over their decision to allow gay youth to participate in the organization, made in 2013. The PCA also bars women from being ministers or deacons.

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-3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-07-21 09:49
I must be missing the point here. Don't all schools and colleges have campus police. Who is supposed to be there in case some crazy student begins shooting up the place, something that happens disturbingly often. Many corporations have their own police force; they are called "security."

Let's face it. The US is a police state. There is no place anyone can go and not be under the surveillance of the police. Big Brother is Watching You. So why not at a church or church school?
 
 
+9 # Kootenay Coyote 2019-07-21 13:42
States have police forces, not churches; nor ultra-conservat ive cults like Briarwood. So much for separating the two, eh?
 
 
+1 # lorenbliss 2019-07-21 18:25
The precedent for this is the post-Roman-coll apse practice of the Christians hiring out-of-work soldiers and knights to protect monasteries and churches from Picts, Vikings and other "heathen" invaders.

That's the ironic part.

The chilling part is the formation of this Christian “police force” is obviously another indicator of how very close we are to civil war: its true purpose is no doubt providing leadership, unit structure and trained personnel to organize violent resistance against any effort to restore constitutional separation of church and state.
 
 
0 # chapdrum 2019-07-21 20:15
Secede already.
 
 
+2 # elizabethblock 2019-07-21 21:02
Functional governments have a monopoly on the use of force. If they don't, if they give it up or (more likely) have it taken from them, they won't be functional for very long. So, quite apart from the dubious legality of this move, it's dangerous.

"We'll try to stay serene and calm
When Alabama gets the bomb."
-- Tom Lehrer, "Who's Next?", a song from 1965 about nuclear proliferation