Down in good ole Alabamy, they want to eliminate the wall between church and state
Here’s an idea: a religion forms its own police force. Not just a private security force, mind you, like, say, the Episcopal church down the street from me, but an official police force, with the powers to detain, arrest and use lethal force. Good idea or bad? Most Americans would probably say, bad. Very bad. After all, this isn’t Iran, where there is no line between the official state religion and formal law enforcement. We started America, in part, to get away from that kind of theocratic nonsense.
With that in mind, consider the Briarwood Presbyterian Church, in Birmingham, Alabama. “Briarwood Presbyterian Church Wants Its Own Police Force To Patrol Campuses,” the Huffington Post, in Canada, headlined yesterday.
The Alabama State Senate already has approved a bill authorizing the church to create a police department with “all of the powers of law enforcement officers in this state.” The author of the bill is a parishioner in the church, A. Eric Johnston; the Wall Street Journal identifies him as the author of a 2014 ballot initiative, which passed overwhelmingly, that prohibits foreign laws being used in Alabama courts. You know what “foreign laws” Johnston had in mind, don’t you? Right. That’s why the initiative is known as the “anti-Shariah amendment.”
I’ve said it before, anybody who’s worried about Shariah law in the United States is completely insane, and needs psychological help. Bulletin: Muslims are not taking over America!
If Alabama passes this stupid proposal—the new Republican governor (who, let us remember, just stepped in when the old Republican governor had to resign after a sex scandal) hasn’t yet indicated if she’ll sign it or not—Alabama will be the first state to have allowed a church to have its own legal police department. Not just in Alabama—in America.
This is certainly one of the troubling signs of our times: a country in which a Donald J. Trump, who probably is agnostic if not atheist (having never in his 70 years given the slightest sign of being religious) made phony appeals to evangelicals, and even once claimed that the bible is his favorite book after The Art of the Deal. Empowered by this friendly nudging, Christians are now feeling their oats. Why can’t they depend on the local police the way everybody else does? What if gay people in Oakland wanted their own police force? Can you imagine the howls from Christians, especially evangelicals? They’d be screaming bloody murder about the gay gestapo forcing the gay agenda down their throats. Yes, that’s exactly what they would say. But now, the shoe’s on the other foot: it’s the Christians who want that unlimited power, the power of policing.
You know, some right wing Christians are always sticking their camel’s nose under the tent of society, trying to increase their authority. They don’t seem to understand or respect the First Amendment. The Founding Fathers were very explicit over the fact that they wanted a complete, utter separation of church and state; the fact that the Establishment Clause is the very first amendment they passed testifies to the alarm they sought to raise about religion trying to seize the levers of power in America, at the federal, state and local levels.
One would hope the new Republican governor, whose name is Kay Ivey, will not sign this dreadful piece of legislation when it reaches her desk. However, Ivey is another literal-interpretationist Christian who does not believe in evolution; when she was State Treasurer, she told a group of school children, according to a mom whose son was there, “If you are one of those people who believes we evolved out of a pile of goo, that you have no purpose in life…then you should just crawl back to the pile of goo you came from.” This is not a good sign. The least we can expect from our political leaders is a certain base intelligence. The new Republican governor apparently does not possess the intelligence to understand science, even in its most basic form; after all, you don’t need a pH.D to understand that evolution is real. Will Gov. Ivey have the intelligence, not to mention respect for the Constitution, to reject an appallingly stupid bill? We’ll see.