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  • Audience members react during the Exalt Showcase of gospel and Christian music at Central Presbyterian Church at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Film Interactive Festival 2017 in Austin, Texas, March 14.

    Audience members react during the Exalt Showcase of gospel and Christian music at Central Presbyterian Church at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Film Interactive Festival 2017 in Austin, Texas, March 14. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 June 2019

The law approved two weeks ago allows the Birmingham-based mega-church to set-up a private law enforcement department which would have the same powers as regular police.

United States (U.S.) governor from the southern state of Alabama, Kay Ivey, has signed a law permitting Briarwood Presbyterian Church to establish its own police force for its church and school campuses.

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The law approved two weeks ago allows the Birmingham-based mega-church to set-up a private law enforcement department which would have the same powers as regular police.

According to a church statement, the private police will allow them to protect the institution’s average 3,500 worshipers, as well as Briarwood Christian School, a private K-12 institution, with an enrollment of about 2,000 students. 

However, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama, Randall Marshall, says the law could allow the church to cover-up criminal activity that occurs on its campuses yet expects the legislation to be challenged in the courts.

A similar measure was first proposed four years ago but then dismissed in 2017 as it unconstitutionally grants the government power to a religious institution, in violation of the Establishment Clause. 

The new policy is scheduled to go into effect this fall.

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