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.