Briarwood Church

Wikimedia CommonsBriarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Alabama Senate has passed legislation allowing a church to form its own police force.

With a decision that is unprecedented in the United States, legislators voted for the bill 24-4 — clearing the way for Briarwood Presbyterian Church to establish an independently run law enforcement department.

Because what could possibly go wrong when a religious organization is put in charge of trained and armed officials?

Church representatives say they need the force to keep their 4,000-person congregation safe.

“We’ve got over 30,000 events a year that take place at Briarwood – going on all day, all night, at the school at the church, at the seminary,” the bill’s author, Attorney Eric Johnston, told AL.com. “We have to hire policemen all the time. It would be so much easier to have someone on staff.”

Johnston said the provision is similar to an existing law which allows educational institutions to have their own full-time officers.

Critics feared the department could be used to cover up crimes on church property or at the church’s high school, like an incident with drugs that took place on campus in 2015.

“No, it didn’t have anything to do with that,” Johnston replied.

This isn’t the first time Johnston has received attention for drafting legislation involving religion.

In 2014 he authored what became known as Alabama’s “anti-Sharia law.”

Officially titled Amendment One (though an earlier draft was named the Sharia Law Amendment), it changed the state constitution to prohibit Alabama courts from considering “foreign law” when deciding cases — though there was no evidence they had ever done that in the first place.

Johnston had said he wanted to protect Muslim women whose “rights are compromised by Sharia rights if a lawyer in a custody case says, ‘Islam requires you to do this.'”

Like the church police legislation, Amendment One passed with flying colors. 72% of Alabama voters supported it.


Next, read about how Islam will become the world’s largest religion within 20 years. Then, find out when the Pope thinks it’s “better to be an Atheist.”

Annie Garau
Annie is a NYC-based writer. For tips, write to [email protected]
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