What is it about police and the separation of state and church?
There is the recent movement to put “In God We Trust” stickers on the back of police cars. These stickers are not in the spirt of ‘ceremonial deism’, as the Supreme Court oddly called the phrase, but in an in-your-face, you-better-believe-in-God or you-are-not-a-true-American kind of way.
The latest round of this co-mingling of police and church occurred in Pittsburgh last Sunday as reported by KDKA TV. The issue concerned improving public relations.
Chief Cameron McLay, commanders and officers joined members of the Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church in a service of worship and prayer (KDKA).
However, this was not a community meeting at public school. It was not a informal meeting to sit around a table and discuss differences. It was not even, let’s play basketball and get to know one another.
It was at a church service, where the Pittsburgh Chief of the Police gave the chilling statement that “This is the direction that policing needs to go.” Rich Fitzgerald, County Executive, and Ed Gainey, State Representative were also there to speak from the pulpit in their official capacities as legislative executives.
It was a worship service. It was a Christian worship service.
The service ended with officers locking arms in prayer and the Minister stating “I ask in the name of Jesus that he would call us as a people to [grow closer together]”.
Police have the right to attend any church they please as private citizens. But to attend together, in uniform, is a huge violation of the separation of church and state. Let’s not make this a new direction for the Steel City.
Let’s let Chief McLay know that an error was made and that this is a line the police should not cross.