Alabama (Sputnik) – On April 11, the Alabama Senate voted to allow a megachurch in the city of Birmingham to create its own armed police force, an unprecedented move that will now head to the state’s House of Representatives for a final vote, likely to be followed by what many suggest could be lengthy and high-profile lawsuits.
The Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which boasts some 4,000 regular members, among them an estimated 2,000 students in the facility’s K-12 school and attached theological seminary, claimed that it needed its own law enforcement squad to guarantee the safety of its congregation, following numerous shootings in schools and churches across the United States.
Alabama’s Senate Judiciary Committee accepted the megachurch’s proposal and passed it to the Senate, where the request received an overwhelmingly positive vote of 24 for and only four against.
According to Matt Moore, an administrator at the religious facility, “The sole purpose of this proposed legislation is to provide a safe environment for the church, its members, students and guests,” as reported by NBC News.
Legal precedence in the state of Alabama allows “for the employment of one or more persons to act as police officers at colleges and other private educational institutions,” according to reports.
Lawsuits are sure to follow, as many observe that the accountability of a private armed force, especially one on church grounds, could lead to problems.
“It’s our view this would plainly be unconstitutional,” said Randall Marshall, acting executive director of the ACLU, adding that, “These bills unnecessarily carve out special programs for religious organizations,” NBC reported.