Obedience Boys, Say Hello to Law Enforcement Boys

Courtesy of John Fea:

The Alabama Senate has voted to allow a church to form its own police force.

Lawmakers on Tuesday voted 24-4 to allow Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham to establish a law enforcement department.

The church says it needs its own police officers to keep its school as well as its more than 4,000 person congregation safe.

Critics of the bill argue that a police department that reports to church officials could be used to cover up crimes.

The state has given a few private universities the authority to have a police force, but never a church or non-school entity.

Police experts have said such a police department would be unprecedented in the U.S.

A similar bill is also scheduled to be debated in the House on Tuesday.

The big question: if women may not serve in combat, how about law enforcement?

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29 thoughts on “Obedience Boys, Say Hello to Law Enforcement Boys

  1. I’m working on a faux reality comedy about this situation. Here’s a script excerpt:
    (Opening credits)
    Announcer: IN A WORLD WHERE DANGER LURKS, SIN CREEPS, AND FENDER BENDERS THREATEN THE BOND OF LOVE A NEW FORCE EMERGES: A POLICE FORCE…AND THIS TIME, IT’S CHURCHY: BRIARWORLD 911-3:16!

    DISPATCH: Unit 4, what’s your location?

    UNIT 4: I’m headin’ to Annex B. Thought I’d keep an eye on ballet practice.

    D: Cancel that, Unit 4. They said you were there the whole time last week and they’re not sure it’s really necessary.

    4: Oh, I don’t mind.

    D: Unit 4, you’re requested at the Hymnasium to stand by for the Ladies Over-60s Weigh Down Faith-N-Workout. Sometimes the ladies get down on the mat and can’t get back up. You may be able to help.

    4: Oh no, not them again. They’re heavy sweaters!

    D: Please respond…scratch that Unit 4, we’ve got a call coming in.

    4: 10-4!

    D: Unit 4, we have a report of a possible marital bump in the road, parking sector 5. Possible members in the vicinity of a silver Range Rover with kayak racks. Can you respond?

    4: 10-4

    (tires screech)

    4: Dispatch, we got a real live one here. Please deploy counselors to sector 5. Neither one o’ them is wantin’ to submit to anybody or anything! (glass breaks)

    D: Unit 4, all counselors busy. The chief authorizes use of the Sword of the Spirit taser set to medium if they don’t calm down. Or maybe just tell ’em there’s free chicken nuggets in the lobby at entrance 5.

    4: 10:4…

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  2. New Side/New School Thinking at it’s best. This really shows how much contempt the leadership of Briarwood has for Luther and 2K, and more than this, wanting to truly ‘lord over the flock’, even by means of the Thin Blue Line – outrageous! It’s ‘all about the money’ according to Senator Jabbo Waggoner, who maintains that it is cheaper for Briarwood to have it’s own Police Department than to hire off-duty officers/pay for security! Oh, let’s see, because if they can have a police department, then they can keep charging (extorting) churches for $15,000 or so to coach them on how to become revitalized. What a sham! A Real Racket………

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  3. I can’t imagine a session who would want to deal with all the problems this could cause the church. Doesn’t Briarwood session have enough with over 4,0000 members?

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  4. This whole thing is a bit strange on the surface, but makes sense when you consider how big Briarwood is and how often they hire off-duty police for security. For starters, the school is big for a Protestant school, and enormous for a Reformed school (120 or so per graduating class). They have sporting events on a near-daily basis, along with all the other standard school activities for pre-K through high school. And that’s just the school. Now add in all the many, many church activities apart from the school and the need for security becomes evident, as much for traffic control as anything else. Also, Briarwood tends to attract a lot of dignitaries for whatever reason – presidential candidates attending church at Briarwood is more or less routine. And they host a lot of major events, such as the PCA General Assembly at some point in the 90s.

    All that to say, they need security on a daily basis, and having their own police force is (apparently) far more economical than paying off-duty cops. If they can save money on security, maybe they can reduce that $15,000 revitalization fee that Semper Reformanda finds so onerous…

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  5. Vae, right, don’t pay any attention to the gut-test that might tell you that if you have to have your own PD (as A CHURCH!!!!!!) that maybe something fundamental is way off. Just go with it, way easier. Next stop, your own zip code. Rome on line two.

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  6. So, we have a PCA church that acts like Hagee’s church? Egads, man. Does Creflo Dollar fill the pulpit when he’s riding through? Are they on TV? Gotta have your own TV production and set your wife and children up in the adjacent restaurant spaces. How about a hotel? Gotta have a hotel for out of town visitors

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  7. What is truly amazing to me is that there appear to be (besides Old Life) no questioning, no voices of dissension, especially on highly-read-visited PCA websites or elsewhere about the PD idea. What really concerns me is how this is certain to give the PCA, the State of Alabama, and Christendom across America an unnecessary ‘black eye’.

    By the way, in the Fanning the Flame program, $15,000 is just the starting point; the ‘team’ maintains that for church revitalization to be really effective, you should continue to go to the next phase – more $thousands$, and so on.
    It really is onerous on the struggling churches they convince to do the program.

    Given the Police Department initiative + Embers/Fanning The Flame, and how they seem to run the show in many respects in the denomination, all of this really shows how much control Briarwood has over the PCA – as though they are a type of ‘Calminian (Calvin + Arminian Theology) Vatican’. I saw fear in the eyes of a young PCA pastor when I told him that his sermon sounded like he went to school at WSCAL, to which he replied, ‘for some, that would be a good thing, and others would say that it is a bad thing, depending on who you talk to’ (my paraphrase).

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  8. Better to have a police force than the power of citizen’s arrest:

    A man trying to impose what he calls “the civil part of the sharia law” in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis has sparked anger among local residents and Muslim leaders.

    Abdullah Rashid, 22, a Georgia native who moved to Cedar-Riverside last year, has been making the rounds in the Somali-dominated neighborhood, telling people not to drink, use drugs or interact with the opposite sex. If he sees Muslim women he believes are dressed inappropriately, he approaches them and suggests they should wear a jilbab, a long, flowing garment. And he says he’s recruiting others to join the effort.

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  9. ‘Never send an Arab to do an Armenian’s job’………………….from the movie, ‘John Goldfarb, Please Come Home’
    by William Peter Blatty, Lebanese-American author/story-screenplay writer for the film

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  10. Letmesplainsean – it’s Alabama. Football is their thing: http://m.shelbycountyreporter.com/2017/03/07/profile-the-patriarch-briarwood-legend-isnt-slowing-down/

    Semper Reformanda – I agree with you to a certain extent. Briarwood has massive influence within the PCA. After all, they are the flagship PCA church, and I think possibly the largest in terms of membership. There probably is a bit of “well, if Briarwood’s doing it, it must be ok” thinking in the PCA on this and other issues.

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  11. Vae, you hit it right on the head. I’ve heard how important football is expressed defacto-the-same.
    Also, appreciate your concurrence in your observations about Briarwood, even in measure. I do think there is a lot of group-think going on, and that’s my main point. You are spot-on!

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  12. WCF 31.4. Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth.

    Is it fair to assume the same restraints apply to local congregations as well?

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  13. David, the WCF is so clear and it does extend to local congregations – absolutely. If it did not, it would seem to be instructing oversight leadership to hold to a different standard than the local congregation. There appears to be no one in Reformed circles anywhere except here on Old Life who has questioned/spoken out against this. Even the Alabama House of Representatives moved it out of committee 3 days ago to bring the bill before the full House. The House members have had the wool pulled over their eyes. I’ve always been for the rights of Christians in America and all over the globe to be able to worship freely, but the Briarwood police department idea is way out of bounds.

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  14. This bill is on the verge of very likely becoming law – if Governor Kay Ivey signs it into the same. Right now it appears that the bill is coming back to the Alabama Senate from the Alabama House, where, reportedly, Briarwood Presbyterian leadership dominated the House Committee meeting. Senator J.T. ‘Jabbo’ Waggoner is pushing this bill very hard in the Alabama Senate, and has the power of life and death in the Senate chamber for setting the agenda for bills to come up for a vote as the key ‘Rules’ player. Those in the Senate who oppose this bill might not see their bills brought up – as a political payback. The only hope now for killing this bill is for there to be either an unstoppable filibuster, or for a wide majority of the Senators to vote against it, and for the Governor to be persuaded to not sign it. The news reported that the Governor ‘will look at the bill’ when asked if she would sign it into law.

    Imagine what would happen next when the bill becomes law; the Church of the Highlands is rumored to already be waiting in the wings to be granted the same legal proviso, and the snowball effect would be for LDS, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Wiccan, and Islamic mosques to be granted the same. If and when it happens, all believers will have to live with it, but the negative effects would be the church losing tax-exempt status in degrees at first, and even more over time. The Freedom of Information Act would make protect churches harboring criminals, unless they were sued for the information.

    But what is not being discussed here is the ‘enabling legal power’ to spy upon congregants in the name of security and safety, beyond the normal government and discipline power of the church court, the Session. This is extremely dangerous, and something that probably none of the legislators would even consider at a glance. Reportedly, a number of Senators have realized that this bill is problematic, and would have negative consequences, but the question of the hour is – have enough of them come to their senses by now? Reportedly, they didn’t have time to read it and consider it carefully when they passed it recently, and sent it to the House.

    Senator Jabbo Waggoner usually supports biblical legislation, and seems to feel that he is sincerely ‘helping the Christian church and community’ by introducing a measure of law to help make congregants feel safe. But he is ‘sincerely wrong’ on this bill, and unless he reconsiders it, and withdraws the legislation, it’s possible that he, the State of Alabama, and Briarwood will live to see what the opening of ‘Pandora’s Box will bring, especially with the ACLU at the door ready to pounce on it; anything could happen as a negative and unnecessary consequence, and likely, most/many Christians in America will lose confidence in the PCA as a denomination. I hope not, and would rather be wrong in my estimation of what may follow. Still to date – not a peep of objection in the Aquila Report or anyone with clout in the PCA……….Why? or….Why Not?…..on such a major issue?

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  15. Semper Reformanda – your concerns are certainly legitimate and understandable, but perhaps overstated. The police jurisdiction would be limited to the church and school, and Briarwood’s session would have no judicial authority over criminal activity. Let’s say their worst fears are realized, and a person shows up to the church with a bomb. Let’s say the Briarwood police detain him. He wouldn’t be held in a Briarwood jail and tried in a Briarwood court. No, he would be handed over to the local civil authorities who would handle the matter from there. They are setting up their own police force to enforce local laws, not an altogether separate government.

    I understand the Pandora’s box regarding other perhaps less scrupulous organizations (e.g. an extremist local mosque, or Clearnote Fellowship). But at the same time it’s not as though those organizations could enforce their own legal system outside the confines of the church. A militant Muslim couldn’t have a woman arrested for walking down the street without a hijab. I get the fears, but I think they are largely overblown.

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  16. Thanks Vae; good to have feedback and differing views such as you have presented. I learn from all of you here on the blog, and even if I ‘stick to my guns’ after hearing another perspective, I do carry something very valuable learned from others. Probably the reason I’m overstating concerns on this one is because of how much influence Briarwood has – in the PCA and otherwise; it used to be the case that Briarwood was well-loved and highly thought of when mentioned in conversation, but that seems to be changing…….

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