Most churches do not have an entire police force to keep the congregation safe during worship and other services. Sometimes churches do have some type of security. However, a megachurch in Birmingham, Alabama is on its way of being approved for an entire police force. State lawmakers agree that the church needs a police force.

According to CNN, the Alabama Senate voted on Tuesday that Briarwood Presbyterian Church can hire officers who would carry weapons and have the authority to make arrests. Briarwood wants to provide a safe environment for the church, its more than 4,100 members, students and guests.

Church officials believe this is possible only by having a complete police force available.

Is it legal for a church to have a police force?

While most people contend that no matter how large a church is, an entire police force for it is unusual. The ACLU says it is unconstitutional for a church to have its own police force. The organization believes that if the bill passes for the suburban church, it will go against the First Amendment. People often talk about freedom of speech in reference to that amendment, but it also prohibits any law in regards to hindering the free exercise of religion and interfering with the right to a peaceful assembly.

Church officials say armed police are definitely needed to protect the congregation as well as the K-12 school and a seminary that is run by the church.

The church cited examples of church and school shootings to substantiate the need for armed police officers at the church.

Why church could have police force

Because the church is located in Alabama, it is lawful for guns to be carried into the church. Unlike most states, Alabama does not prohibit guns in a Place Of Worship.

Therefore, Briarwood Presbyterian Church is the only place of worship in the nation that could have its very own police force, if the bill is finally passed.

Currently, the church has to call police officers when needed. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department responds to emergency calls whenever there are security problems at the church.

Also, off-duty police officers in the area help out from time to time. However, the Alabama church wants more than what it is already getting.

Status of bill

The bill has already been passed by the state Senate. In fact, it was passed 24-4. The bill is now on its way to the House. If it is passed, the bill will be sent to Alabama Republican Governor Kay Ivey for approval. Ivey is a 72-year-old new governor. She assumed her duties on April 10, 2017, after the resignation of former Governor Robert Bentley who pleaded guilty to criminal charges regarding campaign finance violations while in the middle of a sex scandal. Therefore, Ivey will have her hands full and might put the bill on the back burner for the time being.

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