Freedom From Religion Foundation Files Complaint Against Montgomery Police Department


By Catalina Trivino

A group says a Montgomery Police Department program called "Operation Good Shepherd" violates the separation of church and state and is threatening to go to court unless it's stopped. That program uses church leaders, who offer prayer and encouragement to crime victims.

Operation Good Shepherd -- it's a program offered by the Montgomery Police Department, where faith leaders provide support to people affected by crime through counsel and prayer.

But the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation says it goes against the separation of church and state. They've filed a complaint saying it's inappropriate for police to provide this service.

"They're using the fragile vulnerable state of citizens to try and convert them to one particular religion. It's a terrible violation of the constitution and decorum," Said FFRF Attorney, Andrew Sydell.

But Montgomery Mayor, Todd Strange says the organization is wrong...

"It is not about religious recruiting. It's about crime prevention and if anybody does not want any of that, then so be it. They don't have to have it," Said Strange.

But Henri Cheramie says training clergy to comfort victims could be taking advantage of people who are grieving.

"It's almost like ministering to people during times of stress or sadness or emotional need. It does seem to go against the idea of separation of church and state," Said Cheramie.

Montgomery police chose not to go on camera, but they did tell us their legal office is preparing a response to the organization. Mayor Todd Strange, says they should send their response within the next day or two.

The police department says the program could cut crime, but the Freedom From Religion Foundation says research shows the less religious a country is, the lower the violent crime and homicide rates.

Alabama News Network will keep you updated on what happens next after this complaint.