In Alabama, the Senate has okayed a police force with “all the powers of law enforcement” to protect a church of 4,000. Should be fine.
Woop woop, that’s the sound of the … Briarwood Presbyterian Church Police. The “megachurch,” situated in Birmingham, Alabama, has turned to the local senate to allow those who wear a badge to protect those who serve the cross. In a 24-4 vote, the senate said yes because, and losing objectivity slightly here, but, because Alabama. While the state has granted similar forces to education institutions, this decision represents a first.
The Senate Bill (193) states that the force would be “invested with all of the powers of law enforcement officers in this state.” Critics of the bill have stated that this legislation will allow the church to cover up all sorts of chicanery; worried-albeit-somewhat-meritorious conjecture.
The real question, however, is what kind of police will they be? The tertiary institution let’s-ignore-them-because-they-have-noodle-arms-and-water-bottle-holsters kind or something a smidge further up the dial? For history shows when legislative power meets theology, our ears are met by a sermon of choired clusterfudgery. It may no longer be the 13th century, but the Inquisition would be the immediate example that springs to mind. Of course, protecting parishioners and torture are nothing alike, but, as a species, the law combined with the word of God tends to fry our brains somewhat.
On a more realistic note, the divisions between religions – and even sects of the same faith – are divided enough in America; it’s worthy to ask whether a thin blue line of the Lord’s vigilantes will do anything to ease that fissure. For example, someone wants to enter the church, some of the parishioners take umbrage: instead of the usual, harmless force of subtle negging to get the interloper to leave, there is now a third party to literally force them out. In the landscape of modern-day America, one swung punch, fictional or not, could start something rather serious indeed.
The other facet of the argument is the public response to it and whether other denominations will follow suit. For example, if a fundamentalist Mosque was to band together a like-minded group of protectors, bound by law, educated by that theology, would we accept it?
Moreover, would it be heard in the Senate, no matter how local?