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Atheist Group Tells Police to Stop Sending Christian Pastors to Crime Scenes

Posted by on Oct. 9, 2013 at 10:30 AM
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Atheist Group Tells Police to Stop Sending Christian Pastors to Crime Scenes

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The group American Atheists recently wrote a letter to the Montgomery, Ala. Police Department warning them that their program, which sends Christian pastors to crime scenes, is unconstitutional.

The program is called “Operation Good Shepherd” and uses public funds to transport volunteer evangelical pastors to crime scenes to speak to criminal suspects and victims.

The Montgomery Police Department claims the program is a way to regain trust in the community, but the cops openly admit it's a form of Christian evangelism.

Police and local Christians believe that the crime problem in Montgomery stems from fatherless boys, not high unemployment, Draconian drug laws or cuts to the state's rehab and mental health clinics.

“What we want to do is combine the religious community and the Montgomery Police Department and we want to unite those as one,” Police Corp. David Hicks recently told Pastor Billy Irvin on a local Christian radio program, notes The Atlantic.

While the breakdown of the family unit is likely a contributing factor to crime and community involvement is a good idea, it's the use of only Christian pastors that bothers the American Atheists, which would not have a problem if Jewish, Muslim or religious representatives of any other faith (or non-faith) were included in the program.

“Operation Good Shepherd is a taxpayer-funded program that sends Christian pastors to crime scenes in order to preach Christianity to the victims of crimes and the surrounding people,” Dave Muscato, of the American Atheists, told RawStory.com.

“These pastors have access to the crime scenes, which isn’t appropriate for someone who isn’t involved in legal work or crime scene investigation or isn’t a police officer. And this is blatantly unconstitutional, having someone there to preach who is provided by the police."

"What’s really egregious, though, is that the police in Montgomery are being very explicit about the purpose of this being to preach Christianity,” added Muscato.

Sources: The Atlantic and RawStory.com

by on Oct. 9, 2013 at 10:30 AM
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Replies (1-10):
romalove
by Roma on Oct. 9, 2013 at 10:33 AM
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That does sound like a First Amendment breach.

Mrs.Kubalabuku
by Bronze Member on Oct. 9, 2013 at 10:37 AM
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I do agree that sounds like a problem.

I could see it being better if they had a group of various religions or support networks for people to choose from.  Or if they made it a private fund maintained through donations.

The overall idea is good:  Provide those in a high crime area with a supportive alternative during a time of need or grieving.  But there are MANY legal ways to go about doing that.

Wicked.Jester
by on Oct. 9, 2013 at 10:37 AM
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I always question the one sidedness of all the articles that get posted here.  But if taxpayers are paying for Christian clergy to go to crime scenes I would agree that is a misappropriation of tax funds and a breach of the separation between church and state.

If Christian clergy want to be there the offer comfort, and go away if they are refused, fine.  They may be a great comfort to some and there is nothing wrong with the offer.

But they can foot the bill.

It also could be that this is part of a larger victims outreach that provides victims with the type of counseling they PREFER.....be that Christian Clergy or otherwise.  If that is the case, then its an appropriate use of tax money because it would fall under the banner of victim assistance and presumably nondenominational or other denominational assistance would be available if someone so preferred.

But like every article posted here, you only get half the facts.

jllcali
by Jane on Oct. 9, 2013 at 11:01 AM
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“What we want to do is combine the religious community and the Montgomery Police Department and we want to unite those as one,” Police Corp. David Hicks recently told Pastor Billy Irvin on a local Christian radio program

How can anyone not see this as a violation is beyond me.
yourspecialkid
by Platinum Member on Oct. 9, 2013 at 11:06 AM

 http://centralmontgomery.wsfa.com/news/news/281911-first-operation-good-shepherd-meeting-combat-violence-tonight

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA)- With Montgomery's alarming homicide rate, police are doing everything they can to infiltrate neighborhoods and make a difference.

Now they're asking members of the clergy to help. It's called Operation Good Shepherd and the first community meeting is scheduled for Thursday night.

It isn't a new idea, but not very many cities have tried it up until now.

Montgomery Police are modeling it on a similar program in Dayton, Ohio. There the program is called PACT, or Police and Clergy Working Together. In Montgomery it will be called Operation Good Shepherd, and it's coming just in time for the hot summer months, when crime stats often go up.

Here's how the program works in Dayton: faith leaders attend weekly classes in which police teach them ways they can discourage crime and show them exactly what's happening in their communiites.Then those pastors go back to their congregations to spread the word.

The first Montgomery meeting is Thursday night, June 6 at the Gateway Park Lodge located at 3800 Davenport Drive. It starts at 6:30 p.m. This initial meeting will include a participation sign-up for religious leaders and a presentation discussing the purpose of the program, training sessions and goals.

After the clergy graduate, they'll keep working with police, doing ride-alongs and responding to crisis situations in their neighborhoods.

Right now, it's just getting off the ground, but police say you'll start hearing much more about Operation Good Shepherd in the months to come.

Police say that there will also be several other new crime prevention initiatives over the summer.  One that's already started involves school resource officers.  Now that classes are over, officers are infiltrating the neighborhoods around the schools to get a better handle on what's going on.

Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

12hellokitty
by Platinum Member on Oct. 9, 2013 at 11:15 AM
1 mom liked this
More whining from Atheists.....
momtoscott
by Platinum Member on Oct. 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM
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Oh, no no no no no.  This is not okay.  

Suzukigirl710
by Member on Oct. 9, 2013 at 4:33 PM
1 mom liked this

can the inmates/offenders turn down the clergy? or can they request another clergy of their choice religion? I think this is a great idea.  Especially for the clergy to be right there at the scene.  Where the emotion is raw.

TranquilMind
by Platinum Member on Oct. 9, 2013 at 4:35 PM
1 mom liked this

 This is EXACTLY what I am talking about in that other thread.  What do they care, at the time of crisis?  It's been ok for the last 100 years, but now some rabid atheist has a problem with it.  If you don't want the attention, then refuse it.   But don't attempt to stop anyone else from getting a pastor's attention at the scene.

You know, at the moment you face death, as in the case of a serious accident, all of the sudden your priorities become exceedingly clear.

Quoting romalove:

That does sound like a First Amendment breach.

 

SuzCahn
by Bronze Member on Oct. 9, 2013 at 4:36 PM

 That sounds great!

Quoting yourspecialkid:

 http://centralmontgomery.wsfa.com/news/news/281911-first-operation-good-shepherd-meeting-combat-violence-tonight

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA)- With Montgomery's alarming homicide rate, police are doing everything they can to infiltrate neighborhoods and make a difference.

Now they're asking members of the clergy to help. It's called Operation Good Shepherd and the first community meeting is scheduled for Thursday night.

It isn't a new idea, but not very many cities have tried it up until now.

Montgomery Police are modeling it on a similar program in Dayton, Ohio. There the program is called PACT, or Police and Clergy Working Together. In Montgomery it will be called Operation Good Shepherd, and it's coming just in time for the hot summer months, when crime stats often go up.

Here's how the program works in Dayton: faith leaders attend weekly classes in which police teach them ways they can discourage crime and show them exactly what's happening in their communiites.Then those pastors go back to their congregations to spread the word.

The first Montgomery meeting is Thursday night, June 6 at the Gateway Park Lodge located at 3800 Davenport Drive. It starts at 6:30 p.m. This initial meeting will include a participation sign-up for religious leaders and a presentation discussing the purpose of the program, training sessions and goals.

After the clergy graduate, they'll keep working with police, doing ride-alongs and responding to crisis situations in their neighborhoods.

Right now, it's just getting off the ground, but police say you'll start hearing much more about Operation Good Shepherd in the months to come.

Police say that there will also be several other new crime prevention initiatives over the summer.  One that's already started involves school resource officers.  Now that classes are over, officers are infiltrating the neighborhoods around the schools to get a better handle on what's going on.

Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

 

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