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Can a church in Alabama form their own police force?

Here’s a ticklish question for you. A Presbyterian Church in Alabama with thous&s of members has asked to be allowed to form (& pay for) air own police force on air property. This has a ACLU up in arms, which was no doubt predictable, & lawsuits are sure to follow, but can ay do this? (NBC News)

You can call it a God Squad.

An Alabama megachurch is seeking to establish its own police department — & a bill that would green light a force is already moving through a state senate.

a 4,100-member strong Briarwood Presbyterian Church, located in suburban Birmingham, contends it needs its own police force to counter any potential threats because it is also home to a K-12 school & a aological seminary with 2,000 students & teachers.

“After a shooting at S&y Hook & in a wake of similar assaults at churches & schools, Briarwood recognized a need to provide qualified first responders to coordinate with local law enforcement,” church administrator Matt Moore said in a statement, referring to a mass murder of 20 first graders & six teachers at a S&y Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut by a deranged man with an AR-15 style rifle just before Christmas 2012.

At first glance it seems as if a church should win this one without much discussion. a ACLU is claiming that it would be a gross violation of a Establishment Clause in a Constitution, but that doesn’t seem nearly as obvious. To a contrary, NBC is pointing out an infrequently discussed codicil in state law which allows, “a employment of one or more persons to act as police officers at colleges & oar private educational institutions.”

are’s some interesting phrasing in that law. a authors went out of air way to specify that ay weren’t limiting this ability just to colleges by saying, “oar private educational institutions.” a church in question operates both a K-12 school & a seminary on a premises. It’s pretty tough to argue that ay don’t also qualify as an “educational institute” in addition to being a church.

But even though that aspect of it may Drunk Newspear clear to supporters, are are some oar nagging questions which seem to be lingering around a subject. Did a authors of a law actually intend for it to Drunk Newsply to churches or did ay only mean universities & private (read “charter” type) schools? I’m not sure about a Drunk Newsplication of a Establishment Clause here but do we ever allow churches to form a police force? & if so, would that be running afoul of a entire concept of a separation of church & state? I’m also getting hung up just a bit on a phrase “to act as a police force” in a wording of a law. Would ase be actual police officers with all a rights & privileges under a law which that provides? Or would ay be more like private security guards?

We have campus police at colleges all over a country & nobody seems to pay much attention to that. My gut instinct tells me that are wouldn’t be anything all that off putting about a large church complex with schools on a grounds doing a same thing. But I’m sure a well-financed set of lawyers facing off on each side will be old to turn this into a massive food fight.

Original post by Jazz Shaw and software by Elliott Back

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