Briarwood Presbyterian Moves One Step Closer to Getting its Own Police Force

"The state has given a few private universities the authority to have a police force, but never a church or non-school entity. Opponents worry crimes could be covered up by the church."

www.al.com (AP article)

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Briarwood_Presbyterian_Church_in_Birmingham,_AL.jpgBriarwood Presbyterian Church

It was exactly one month ago that we brought to your attention a most unusual request by a church:

Briarwood Presbyterian (Alabama) Wants Its Own Police Department.

As we explained in that post, Briarwood Presbyterian Church, located in Birmingham, Alabama, made the very same request back in 2015.That time the bill passed; however, it landed on the Governor's desk at a late date, and the Governor never signed it into law.

Briarwood's request to establish its own police department has once again been submitted to the Alabama State Legislature. When we published our previous post, the bill was being reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. We promised to keep our readers informed of any developments, and now this Senate committee has given its O.K.

Here is how the Associated Press (AP) broke the news:

An Alabama church is a step closer to having its own police force.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would authorize Briarwood Presbyterian Church to employ its own police force. The bill now moves to the Alabama Senate.

A House committee has approved a similar bill, but the proposal has not yet gotten a floor vote.

The Birmingham-area congregation of 4,000 wants to create a police department to protect its church and school.

We want to commend the AP for staying on top of stories like this and the Word of Faith Fellowship in North Carolina. Bravo!

Apparently, the Sandy Hook school shooting "changed everything' regarding security concerns. The State of Alabama has allowed a few private universities to operate a police force; however, no such authority has every been granted to a church or non-school entity.

It is certainly worth noting that there are opponents who worry that should this church police force become a reality crimes could be covered up. Some of the commentary under articles such as the one cited above call attention to previous problems at the private school operating at Briarwood, most of which have been drug-related. Here are three comments that particularly stood out to me:


http://www.al.com/news/montgomery/index.ssf/2017/03/alabama_senate_committee_oks_p.html

 

 

http://www.al.com/news/montgomery/index.ssf/2017/03/alabama_senate_committee_oks_p.html

 

 

 

http://www.al.com/news/montgomery/index.ssf/2017/03/alabama_senate_committee_oks_p.html

 

 

 

 


The last comment is the one that really concerns me. Should this become law in Alabama, will is establish a dangerous precedent allowing other religions to follow suit?

I visited Montgomery about five years ago and was so impressed by the city and its citizens. It strikes me as really odd that a church located less than 100 miles away would find it necessary to take law enforcement into its own hands.

If you live in Alabama and are concerned about this development, you might want to contact your legislator.


Comments

Briarwood Presbyterian Moves One Step Closer to Getting its Own Police Force — 119 Comments

  1. No. No way. Absolutely not. A sizeable church probably has members who are LE, anyway. Some churches have security details, and that is fine. This is too concerning.

    Public universities in my state employ policemen as campus security. They are fully law enforcement officers. Since students are on campus around the clock, it makes sense to have LE access on short notice. They work with city LE as needed.

    I absolutely cannot see the need for a church to have its own police force. Not in light of what we know about various kinds of abuse and cover up. Just no. Alabama residents need to raise the alarm.

  2. All the stories on here about churches covering up abuse and other crimes leads me to believe that having a private police force can and will be abused to make it easier for leaders to cover up criminal actions. They’ll have the “reason”, “Hey, we have our own police department, report things to them instead of city/county/state law enforcement.” And of course the officers aren’t going to go against the people (church leaders) that issue their paychecks.

    And I’m willing to bet the congregation will be paying for the officers’ salaries, not to mention uniforms, equipment, weapons, and (possibly) a new fleet of patrol cars.

    I can’t think of a reason a church would need a police force (that a private security company couldn’t also perform) but a multitude of ways that having a police force could be abused.

    And would church police be authorized to stop by your house in their shiny new police cruisers, sirens blaring, to take you into custody and to church if you try to skip a Sunday? I’m pretty sure they could write that into their church covenant.

  3. This is very concerning.

    It might be a good idea to tweet, share, and get out the word about this case, and get the public involved as much as possible. I really think that’s necessary on a lot of these things TWW posts, but I think this one is really flying under the radar this time.

  4. There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies,
    There’s a place where where streams of grace grow deep and wide.
    Where all the love I’ve ever found,
    Comes like a flood,
    Comes flowing down,

    At the cross, at the cross, I surrender my life,
    I’m in awe of you, I’m in awe of you,
    Where your love ran red and my sin washed white,
    I owe all to you; I owe all to you, Jesus.

    Chris Tomlin

  5. I think it’s bad precedent to have police who work for the institution not the state. Just in general.

    Their loyalties are going to be to the people paying them.

  6. How often does this church actually need cops to answer a disturbance call, arrest a criminal, or investigate a crime? Why can’t the hire security personnel, and just call the police when necessary? Is it really that bad there?

    Maybe they should just declare the church campus an independant country, and build a border wall.

  7. Things worked so much better when the Holy Spirit struck you dead at the door if you brought bad motives to church. “Everyone who heard of these things had a healthy respect for God. They knew God was not to be trifled with” (Acts 5:11). In the miserable condition of the American church, the devil ain’t scared when church folks get up in the morning … so he goes to church with them.

    There ain’t enough spiritual power resting on most congregations to blow the dust off a peanut, so we have to pack heat to compensate. For that reason, to protect the innocent from demons who freely strut about, I’m OK with armed guards packing concealed weapons in church but not a formal police force. As others have noted, such enforcement could be used for the wrong reasons in the hands of an authoritarian church leadership.

  8. This just ” blows my mind” church cops…..Church cops….sounds like the religious police in Saudi Arabia

  9. Will the ” Church Cops” be able to ” run radar” on the street running in front of the church, with a portion of the ticket going into the church coffers?

    Will they be able to visit members who miss services after ‘X’ Sunday’s?

  10. K.D. wrote:

    Will the ” Church Cops” be able to ” run radar” on the street running in front of the church, with a portion of the ticket going into the church coffers?
    Will they be able to visit members who miss services after ‘X’ Sunday’s?

    My thoughts went a little farther off kilter than that: Will the fine women for dressing inappropriately, or for not being submissive enough? Or, how about a debtors prison or community service for those who don’t tithe?

  11. K.D. wrote:

    Will they be able to visit members who miss services after ‘X’ Sunday’s?

    Yes, to deliver their letters of excommunication.

  12. Your own Vatican City in the middle of Alabama. Does having your one police force–aka Swiss Guard—make the senior pastor “Protestant Pope?”

    Bad idea all around.

  13. K.D. wrote:

    Church cops

    Would make a great reality show! The world looks at the organized church as such a big joke now, I’m sure it would be a new popular addition to prime time entertainment.

  14. Max wrote:

    K.D. wrote:
    Barney Fife
    Barney only had one bullet!

    Yes sir, I doubt these guys carry a S&W Model 10 like Barney….they’ll be carrying Glocks or Sigs with 14-16 rounds.

  15. Max wrote:

    K.D. wrote:
    Will they be able to visit members who miss services after ‘X’ Sunday’s?
    Yes, to deliver their letters of excommunication.

    Since they’re 9Marks, a recent Mailbag admitting to CBHC having a secret “care list” seems on topic.
    https://www.9marks.org/mailbag/55/

  16. BTW- to prove I am OCD on certain issues….Barney also carried a Colt OP .38 and a Colt Police Positive .38…I’m sure whatever the Prop Deparment had that day…

  17. Dave A A wrote:

    Since they’re 9Marks, a recent Mailbag admitting to CBHC having a secret “care list” seems on topic.
    https://www.9marks.org/mailbag/55/

    “No, no one is notified if his or her name is on the internal care list. The care list is just our way of reminding ourselves to pursue regular updates on hurting or straying sheep.”

    Very disturbing!

  18. I would be curious how this would work. I worked at a hospital that had its own police force, but were still technically members of the city force (Dallas, TX). So if a person was arrested at the hospital, they were booked at a city jail. But the police officers basically had a unit that only worked that hospital and had the name of the hospital on their uniforms.

    My university had its own police force, but again no jails, so if it was above a ticket, the local town police would have to be called to pick up the person who was arrested. I was once issued a moving violation on campus and still had to go through the local courthouse for defensive driving and court costs.

  19. Max wrote:

    Would make a great reality show! The world looks at the organized church as such a big joke now, I’m sure it would be a new popular addition to prime time entertainment.

    Church cops, church cops. Whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you?

  20. “we don’t refer to the individuals by name in that setting but by number. Every other elders’ meeting, the chairman will lead us through each name. ‘How’s number 1 doing?’ The elder(s) responsible for number 1 will then provide all of us an update. ‘And how about number 2?'”

    Sounds like they’re potty training!

  21. ishy wrote:

    “No, no one is notified if his or her name is on the internal care list. The care list is just our way of reminding ourselves to pursue regular updates on hurting or straying sheep.”
    Very disturbing!

    Did you see Leeman’s typo in the sentence above that?

    “When a person’s status has improved, we remove him or her from the internal careless.”

  22. Nancy2 wrote:

    Church cops, church cops. Whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you?

    Oh, no….now I can’t get that tune out of my mind….lol

  23. @ ishy:
    pursuing ‘straying sheep’:
    with a police force?

    oh my goodness!

    if an American citizen cannot leave a Church willingly without being harassed by the Church’s ‘police’;
    what is really going on?

    and if the state of Alabama approves this?
    an American state?
    ????

  24. Victorious wrote:

    Oh, no….now I can’t get that tune out of my mind….lol

    It starting going around in my head the instant I saw the article header. When Max mentioned a reality show, I just couldn’t resist any longer!

  25. If the church gets its own police force, it will be like so many college and university campuses, both public and private, where all sorts of crimes get covered up in the name of the good name of the institution. We know that the number of sexual assaults reported on college campuses is well underneath the actual number. We know there is pressure in not reporting. We know that people who do report get harassed. I need only point to the huge coverup of sexual assaults by football players by Baylor for starters. If you want to dig a little deeper, you can research Madi Barney, who was sexually assaulted off campus at Brigham Young University, but whose sexual assault was the subject of an Honor Code investigation against HER.

    I could very easily see Briarwood disposing of drugs down the toilets of the school campus to keep up the school’s good name. I could very easily see Briarwood hiding the fact that a child of a prominent family was involved in some illegal activity. I can see it all happening. We’ve seen it happen over and over again at other colleges and universities, both public and private.

    The difference here is the First Amendment. This is untrod ground. What happens if a boy or a girl is sexually assaulted at Briarwood and it’s covered up? Will Briarwood hide behind the First Amendment and Alabama’s state “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” to keep its actions hidden? I can absolutely predict that this question WILL come up and faster than you might imagine.

    The state legislators in Alabama need to stop and think about this very hard. You don’t want this. You don’t want a hole where all sorts of crimes–from embezzlement to child sexual abuse–can fall into and never be seen again. However, I would remind people that Alabama is the same state where churches can set up child care facilities and they’re never inspected. That’s another huge hole, one some brave legislators are trying to close, and the churches in the state are bound and determined to keep that hole open.

    http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2017/03/conservative_christian_groups.html

    I don’t hold much hope for the Alabama legislature to do the right thing. They’ll allow Briarwood to have their police force, and then when a child dies from a drug overdose because s/he bought something from an on-campus dealer, or a child is sexually assaulted and it’s covered up, there will be a lot of handwringing and “we didn’t expect this,” but I’m telling you here, on March 18, 2017, that you can and SHOULD expect this.

  26. Oh, and if people want real-life examples of why having the police tangled up with a church is bad, just look at the Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, NC. Why, two assistant DAs lost their jobs because they were credibly accused of coaching parishioners in an investigation of child abuse at the church. And yesterday a social worker who was also a member of the church and also accused of coaching people during the investigation also resigned.

    http://wspa.com/2017/03/17/social-worker-accused-of-hiding-word-of-faith-church-abuse-resigns/

    I’m telling you, churches should not have their own police departments. They need oversight. And I didn’t even have to bring up the big bogeyman of Scientology to make my point. 🙂

  27. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes wrote:

    They’ll allow Briarwood to have their police force, and then when a child dies from a drug overdose because s/he bought something from an on-campus dealer, or a child is sexually assaulted and it’s covered up, there will be a lot of handwringing and “we didn’t expect this,” but I’m telling you here, on March 18, 2017, that you can and SHOULD expect this.

    MUSLIN, you need to take this and speak before the Alabama legislature!

    Wealthy entities like Briarwood can afford to lobby (bribe) legislators privately,
    but once someone stands and speaks truth to power publicly in the belly of the beast,
    it is difficult to silence truth, even when votes come in against it, and the evil entity wins the day …..

    sooner or later,
    after tragedies that unfold and do become public, some may point to the time when the legislature heard the voice in the wilderness and they turned away towards the lobbyists instead.

    Then it’s up to the voters to clean house.

    (I’m dreaming here of better days, when people in our country will have the courage to RESPOND again by going forward in the right direction ….)

  28. jerome wrote:

    “When a person’s status has improved, we remove him or her from the internal careless.”

    Freudian autocorrect!
    If you’re on the public care list, you know they care.
    If you’re not on the public care list you don’t know whether they care or not, because you may be on the private care list but they don’t care to tell you that.
    If you never sign up for the membership list, you know they couldn’t care less.

  29. ishy wrote:

    “No, no one is notified if his or her name is on the internal care list. The care list is just our way of reminding ourselves to pursue regular updates on hurting or straying sheep.”

    (quoting Leeman)
    But there is no reason for “hurting” sheep NOT to be on the public care list. “Hurting” sheep would want the whole church to pray for them and help them, not just the elders. So it’s really all about the “straying” ones.

  30. Dave A A wrote:

    But there is no reason for “hurting” sheep NOT to be on the public care list. “Hurting” sheep would want the whole church to pray for them and help them, not just the elders. So it’s really all about the “straying” ones.

    so ‘fleeing’ from 9 Marx controlling is labelled ‘straying’?
    Will the ‘police’ then become deputized ‘shepherds’ to round up them what has ‘strayed’ (chosen to leave) and haul them before the Church court? Forcefully?

    At some point, if American Churches are going to be able to do this kind of thing, our American Constitution would have to be suspended, wouldn’t it? Could this happen? Only in some dystopian American when people no longer cared?

    “That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn’t even any rioting in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television …” (Margaret Atwood, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’)

    Deb’s post is a flame tower of a red light. I hope people understand this.

  31. Christiane wrote:

    “That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn’t even any rioting in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television …” (Margaret Atwood, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’)

    Just wanted to point out that there is no legal way to suspend the Constitution as suggested here. (Note: I don’t expect Margaret Atwood, a Canadian novelist, to know about the nuances of US constitutional law.) The closest is imposing martial law, which has been very rarely used in the USA. You’d need a coup d’etat or a sheer power grab with the backup of the military and local police forces to get away with something like that here.

  32. @ Muslin, fka Dee Holmes:
    Thanks, Muslin

    unless we are vigilant, there will always be challenges to our freedoms

    What is happening with Briarwood may be an attempt to cull out a population from under the protection of the US Constitution IF a private police force is empowered by the state of Alabama to answer to the whims of a 9 Marks cult.

    The Deebs don’t want ‘politics’ to be talked about, and I understand that. But cults and controlling ‘male headship’ churches, by entering into the public domain bringing in state-approved private police forces, cross a line that needs to be monitored. ‘Small steps’ forwards are a good thing; but this is the reverse:
    a creeping effort to get around the US Constitution’s protections for any American citizen to be in control of their OWN decisions of if or where they worship.

    Margaret Atwood wrote a dystopian novel. Briarwood is a real ‘church/cult/9 Marx entity’.

    These are strange days. Divergent thinking on my part: in how many ways can Briarwood’s plan lead to trouble for innocent people? Is there a safe-guard for these innocents that Briarwood’s plan can get around?

    Briarwood is after control: control of what right now they don’t have. But how far will this control go if they are given the green light?

    ?

  33. Christiane wrote:

    unless we are vigilant, there will always be challenges to our freedoms

    I feel like there’s a rise in people that really want to be in bondage, though. Maybe that’s always been the case, and I’m just noticing it more, I dunno.

  34. ishy wrote:

    I feel like there’s a rise in people that really want to be in bondage, though. Maybe that’s always been the case, and I’m just noticing it more, I dunno.

    well, there certainly is a rise in people who want to PUT others into bondage ….. but first: they have to set the forces in motion that will allow them to do this so they can get away with it ‘legally’

    and the use of ‘fear’ has already been mentioned in Briarwood’s ‘Book of Church Order’, this:
    ” The design of this censure is to operate on the offender as a means of reclaiming him, to deliver the church from the scandal of his
    offense, and to inspire all with fear by the example of his discipline.” (Chapter 30:4)

    ‘TO INSPIRE ALL WITH FEAR BY THE EXAMPLE OF HIS DISCIPLINE’
    That a private Church police force may become a state-approved element in the creation of this fear is something that needs consideration, yes.

  35. @ ishy:
    I think that there is a rise of people looking for some kind of emotional security in our never-changing, crazy world that then results in bondage. When I was a university student in the late 70s, friends would gravitate towards over-controlling churches or cults because they couldn’t find security anywhere else. They were suddenly trapped in a shepherding movement, Scientology, the Children of God, etc. When my niece and her husband recently became involved in a church for the first time, I was all over the internet to check it out. Turns out it’s a wonderful, balanced congregation and they are gaining so much from it. However, given their fragile home lives and lifestyle experimentation, I had to check as my niece sincerely believes that she is going back to the positive church experiences she had with me when I took her as a child.

  36. ishy wrote:

    Dave A A wrote:

    Since they’re 9Marks, a recent Mailbag admitting to CBHC having a secret “care list” seems on topic.
    https://www.9marks.org/mailbag/55/

    “No, no one is notified if his or her name is on the internal care list. The care list is just our way of reminding ourselves to pursue regular updates on hurting or straying sheep.”

    Very disturbing!

    The Gestapo didn’t inform you either; they just knocked on your door in the middle of the night. The New Calvinists are playing sick games with the church. The new reformers don’t really care for you, whether you are on their list or not. They are watching you – waiting for you to cross the line. Be careful little hands what you do, lest you be shunned, excommunicated, and cast onto the eternal trash heap of the non-elect.

  37. I think that there are drug problems with the kids in the Christian school associated with the church and the parents and church and school staff would like them covered up.

  38. Godith wrote:

    I think that there are drug problems with the kids in the Christian school associated with the church and the parents and church and school staff would like them covered up.

    wouldn’t it be more ‘Christian’ to get those children into proper drug treatment programs than to ‘cover it up’?

    honestly, what CAN they all be thinking???

  39. AnonInNC wrote:

    having a private police force can and will be abused to make it easier for leaders to cover up criminal actions.

    Nancy2 wrote:

    Will the fine women for dressing inappropriately, or for not being submissive enough?

    Both risks are possible: the cover-up and the invasion of life off the church campus.

    We already know about people losing everything when they are forced out of a church: family, friends, livelihood. It’s too easy to imagine spiritual blackmail in a church with police powers. Imagine that a scorned student (a lukewarm Christian, a “fast” girl…) is suspected of stealing a phone from a classmate. The church police could make the whole family’s life a living hell, out of all proportion to the offense, and with no hope that the truth would ever come out.

  40. Lea wrote:

    I think it’s bad precedent to have police who work for the institution not the state. Just in general.

    Their loyalties are going to be to the people paying them.

    Yes, Lea. A conflict of interest.

  41. Dave A A wrote:

    Dave A A wrote:

    CBHC

    Or maybe CHBC
    Secret “care list” plus police force = ?

    A 9Marxist church with its own police force. What could possibly go wrong? 🙂

  42. jerome wrote:

    ishy wrote:

    “No, no one is notified if his or her name is on the internal care list. The care list is just our way of reminding ourselves to pursue regular updates on hurting or straying sheep.”
    Very disturbing!

    Did you see Leeman’s typo in the sentence above that?

    “When a person’s status has improved, we remove him or her from the internal careless.”

    Yes, I noticed that right away. He should have proofread before posting.

  43. ishy wrote:

    Dave A A wrote:

    Since they’re 9Marks, a recent Mailbag admitting to CBHC having a secret “care list” seems on topic.
    https://www.9marks.org/mailbag/55/

    “No, no one is notified if his or her name is on the internal care list. The care list is just our way of reminding ourselves to pursue regular updates on hurting or straying sheep.”

    Very disturbing!

    Wait a minute…Didn’t Karen Hinckley know she was on the 9Marks care list? Or was that something that just slipped out? It’s been awhile so I could be foggy on this detail.

  44. Child pornographer on the loose for five years after Episcopal school principal had Washington National Cathedral Police “escort him off campus”:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/former-dc-teacher-makes-fbi-most-wanted-list-after-2008-child-porn-discovery/2012/05/16/gIQAPJJHUU_story.html?utm_term=.41bf8f19d6cc

    “Details of how he escaped authorities are now clearer.”

    “School head Paula Carreiro quickly summoned Toth that day in June 2008 and confronted him. She then had him escorted to the end of the cathedral driveway, ordering him away.”

    “Carreiro confronted Toth about 1:30 p.m….placed him on administrative leave and had Washington National Cathedral Police escort him off campus. By about 3 p.m., Carreiro had called D.C. police.”

    “within 24 hours, [Toth] was 700 miles from the District”

    “With that, she gave Toth a critical jump on police, unwittingly helping a man alleged to have a history of making child pornography. He is now one of the country’s most notorious fugitives — last month, the FBI put him on its Ten Most Wanted list”

    [Toth was finally captured in 2013 in Nicaragua]

  45. @ Dave A A:

    Confirmation that there are secret methods that they don’t put on the website or in the books. Like, the “meetings” that must be done in person.

  46. Darlene wrote:

    Wait a minute…Didn’t Karen Hinckley know she was on the 9Marks care list? Or was that something that just slipped out? It’s been awhile so I could be foggy on this detail.

    Leeman says there’s a private care list and a public care list. The public one is for those who *really* cause “trouble” for the leadership (mostly by standing up to them.)

  47. Christiane wrote:

    wouldn’t it be more ‘Christian’ to get those children into proper drug treatment programs than to ‘cover it up’?

    honestly, what CAN they all be thinking???

    Marketing. They need new students to enroll each year. If parents see on the news that there are drug problems at the school, they may figure it’s not worth shelling out a lot of money to send their kids there.

  48. MidwesternEasterner wrote:

    What’s next, a Scientology police force in Alabama?

    Scientology has no presence in Alabama. An anti-Scientology friend of mine had to drive over from Birmingham to Atlanta to picket the cult.

  49. jerome wrote:

    Child pornographer on the loose for five years after Episcopal school principal had Washington National Cathedral Police “escort him off campus”:

    THANK YOU for sharing that story! This is an EXCELLENT example of why churches should not have police departments!

  50. There’s just something about a church promoting “We have our own police force! Come join us on Sunday!” that doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies about going there.

  51. siteseer wrote:

    Christiane wrote:

    wouldn’t it be more ‘Christian’ to get those children into proper drug treatment programs than to ‘cover it up’?

    honestly, what CAN they all be thinking???

    Marketing. They need new students to enroll each year. If parents see on the news that there are drug problems at the school, they may figure it’s not worth shelling out a lot of money to send their kids there.

    All about the Benjamins, Baby.
    Furtick Mansions, Private Jets, Lobbyists in DC, and booked-full Conference Circuits are EXPENSIVE.

  52. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:

    I just can’t even. One simply can’t be educated in Western philosophy and ideas without this being cringe worthy. Fail.

    Who needs “Western philosophy and ideas” when you have SCRIPTURE?
    And Pastor’s VISION!

  53. Friend wrote:

    We already know about people losing everything when they are forced out of a church: family, friends, livelihood. It’s too easy to imagine spiritual blackmail in a church with police powers. Imagine that a scorned student (a lukewarm Christian, a “fast” girl…) is suspected of stealing a phone from a classmate. The church police could make the whole family’s life a living hell, out of all proportion to the offense, and with no hope that the truth would ever come out.

    Again, Feature, not Bug.
    “WE ALL STAND UNITED BEHIND PASTOR’S VISION!”

  54. Max wrote:

    The New Calvinists are playing sick games with the church. The new reformers don’t really care for you, whether you are on their list or not. They are watching you – waiting for you to cross the line. Be careful little hands what you do, lest you be shunned, excommunicated, and cast onto the eternal trash heap of the non-elect.

    Be careful little hands what you do,
    Be careful little hands what you do,
    There’s a Pastor up Above
    With his Ministry of Love,
    Be careful little hands what you do;

    Be careful little brains what you think,
    Be careful little brains what you think,
    There’s a Pastor up Above
    With his Ministry of Love,
    Be careful little brains what you think…

  55. Christiane wrote:

    Briarwood’s ‘Book of Church Order’, this:
    ” The design of this censure is to operate on the offender as a means of reclaiming him, to deliver the church from the scandal of his
    offense, and to inspire all with fear by the example of his discipline.” (Chapter 30:4)

    Make an Example of one and a hundred will fall right into line.

    “Fear will keep the systems in line. Fear of this Battle Station.”
    — Grand Moff Tarkin, Star Wars

    “Fear always works!”
    — Acting Mayor Bellwether, Zootopia

  56. Christiane wrote:

    well, there certainly is a rise in people who want to PUT others into bondage ….. but first: they have to set the forces in motion that will allow them to do this so they can get away with it ‘legally’

    “Some will say what we do is illegal. Before that can happen, make sure WE are the ones who say what is legal and what is not.”
    — L Ron Hubbard

    “Of course it was legal. Your Nuremburg Laws msde it legal!”
    — Leon Uris, Armageddon: a Novel of Berlin, interrogation of a Nazi Party official

  57. Christiane wrote:

    Will the ‘police’ then become deputized ‘shepherds’ to round up them what has ‘strayed’ (chosen to leave) and haul them before the Church court? Forcefully?

    Look at the Magistrates in Calvin’s Geneva and Massachusetts Bay Colony.

  58. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes wrote:

    The state legislators in Alabama need to stop and think about this very hard. You don’t want this. You don’t want a hole where all sorts of crimes–from embezzlement to child sexual abuse–can fall into and never be seen again. However, I would remind people that Alabama is the same state where churches can set up child care facilities and they’re never inspected. That’s another huge hole, one some brave legislators are trying to close, and the churches in the state are bound and determined to keep that hole open.

    Buckle of the Bible Belt.
    Building a mini-Christian Nation safe against SATAN and his Secular Humanist Liberal Conspiracy. Today Briarwood, TOMORROW THE WORLD!

  59. K.D. wrote:

    Max wrote:

    K.D. wrote:
    Barney Fife
    Barney only had one bullet!

    Yes sir, I doubt these guys carry a S&W Model 10 like Barney….they’ll be carrying Glocks or Sigs with 14-16 rounds.

    And the AR-15 and/or M4 with the laser sight and extended assault mags in their church cop car.
    Tricked up with all the Wickedest-looking aftermarket SWAT accessories.

  60. Divorce Minister wrote:

    Your own Vatican City in the middle of Alabama. Does having your one police force–aka Swiss Guard—make the senior pastor “Protestant Pope?”

    And if other Senior Pastors/God’s Anointeds also get their own Swiss Guards?

    Remember:
    “There can be only One.”
    Highlander

  61. Stories like this is one of the reasons I am so glad that websites like yours exist. Keep up the good work you two!

  62. Briarwood’s police force would have initial jurisdiction in any crime scene investigation. This would include evidence gathering and securing said crime scene.
    I read somewhere that the first 48 hours are critical.
    If there’s a drug issue in this campus then imagine how much cover up could be done before city or county (or state/federal) authorities arrived. Or any crime for that matter.
    In our area, one of the small municipal departments imploded because of such actions pertaining to a DUI death involving a cop. And this pd is overseen by an elected council.
    Given that the primary allegiance would be to the pastor & elders we can see where this would go.
    And don’t think some of the other, bigger megas might not consider this. Could you imagine “Boss” Driscoll or “commissioner” Furtick?

  63. At day’s end it’s a bad idea period. And what other conclusion can one come up with other than they (briarwood) quite possibly want their own form of Shari’ah which would trump established civil and criminal law?

  64. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Marketing. They need new students to enroll each year. If parents see on the news that there are drug problems at the school, they may figure it’s not worth shelling out a lot of money to send their kids there.

    All about the Benjamins, Baby.
    Furtick Mansions, Private Jets, Lobbyists in DC, and booked-full Conference Circuits are EXPENSIVE.

    here, all I can think of is the sacrifices of children to the idol in the story of Esther

    but likely, these people have drowned in their pride and cannot CANNOT risk ‘exposure’ of weaknesses …. but you would think at least they would care for children?? I guess this is where their story for me ceases to make any sense in a human context

  65. @ Max:
    I have a picture of Our Lord confronting Peter in the garden who had drawn his sword and cut off the ear of the priest Malthus:

    “Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away!”

    and from the Psalms comes up into consciousness, this:
    “Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.”

    I suspect the leadership of this ‘Church’ has some plans for its people that they will not like. And I suspect that phrase “‘TO INSPIRE ALL WITH FEAR BY THE EXAMPLE OF HIS DISCIPLINE’ will need a ‘real police force’ to help generate the fear so desired in Briarwood’s ‘Book of Church Order, chapter 30)

    run sheep run …..

  66. I live just a few miles from Briarwood and as a matter of fact, met my husband of 30+ years at a singles event at Briarwood.

    Briarwood and the PCA where very different entities 30 years ago! Briarwood has a school, and I suspect this is the real reason they have asked for their own police force. The students there are known in the community for being a pretty wild bunch. I know that's a generalization and yes, not all the students are wild but enough are to give the school that reputation.

    How do I know this you might ask? My daughter went to college with several BCS graduates, and the things they knew about and experienced in high school was far more worldly than anything my daughter had experienced in public school. Also, Briarwood will accept students who have been expelled from public school as long as parents can pay the hefty tuition and true "repentance" is declared. So I think it is to cover up the misdeeds of the precious children!

  67. Vanity! Vanity! ALL this mess is Vanity and a thirst for even more power and control.
    I wonder…. “what would Jesus say” applies here. What about Peter taking up the sword? These guys cant play it both ways, they would say we are in different times then Peter taking up the sword so that principle does not apply, but on the same time they will say pay your tithes and give even more because that applies to all times. Whatever benefits them is what they preach. I wish they would read all the real gospel stories of missionaries and preachers of old who died to self and suffered much for the gospels sake…. no wait!…. all the church libraries are doing away with those books and replacing them with “christian fiction” go figure. Heaven help us!

  68. Goodness, I reviewed my post. Please forgive the typos and bad grammar. I am making these comments from my phone.

  69. A little off topic, but Birmingham’s Jewish Community Center has received four bomb threats this year. I read on Harry Reeder’s FB page that BW has partnered with several other churches to raise $100,000 to help the JCC beef up its security.

  70. Christiane wrote:

    “Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.”

    Well, that verse sure describes the condition of much of the American church. Vanity is on the wall … the King is not in the city.

  71. jerome wrote:

    “With that, she gave Toth a critical jump on police, unwittingly helping a man alleged to have a history of making child pornography.”

    Very informative angle, thanks. Toth was a very resourceful miscreant. He took advantage of a mere 90-minute lead to get out of Dodge.

    The principal and cathedral police were not trying to cover up what Toth was doing, though. They did make a horrible mistake by just throwing him off the grounds. They did not keep him on as a teacher or give him a glowing recommendation for his next school job.

    The cathedral police failed to invoke whatever police powers they have as licensed “special police” (per Wikipedia). Best option would have been to hold Toth and call DC police. The implications for Briarwood are not clear, but the Toth story could bolster Briarwood’s case for full police powers.

    DC has dozens and dozens of police and security outfits. The cathedral has 418,000 visitors per year–a few more than Briarwood Presbyterian Church, I’d wager. My own view is that Briarwood should hire security guards.

  72. Jan wrote:

    Briarwood has a school, and I suspect this is the real reason they have asked for their own police force. The students there are known in the community for being a pretty wild bunch. … Briarwood will accept students who have been expelled from public school…

    Do the local public high schools have school resource officers (i.e., police officers) in the buildings? If so, any expelled student would be a known quantity.

  73. I can see no legitimate need for a separate Police Force – everything about this feels wrong.

  74. Friend wrote:

    Do the local public high schools have school resource officers (i.e., police officers) in the buildings? If so, any expelled student would be a known quantity.

    Yes, the local schools have SROs. I’m sure people know the students who have been expelled from public school. That wouldn’t be a big secret.

  75. Jan wrote:

    Friend wrote:

    Do the local public high schools have school resource officers (i.e., police officers) in the buildings? If so, any expelled student would be a known quantity.

    Yes, the local schools have SROs. I’m sure people know the students who have been expelled from public school. That wouldn’t be a big secret.

    So maybe the proposed Briarwood Church police force would have the twofold effect of protecting the private school while giving the previously expelled kids a “fresh start.”

    Yes, I’m making a wild guess.

  76. I posted a One Star Google review for Briarwood Presbyterian Church. This is what I said:

    “Red Flag. This church wants its own police force! If they succeed, watch out folks. Imagine what would happen if a crime occurs on that property. There needs to be oversight from outside this community in the event that such a crime would occur. I’m aware of too many church cover-ups when it comes to child sex abuse, rape, and domestic violence. Further, I question the constitutionality of this bill as regards the Second Amendment in the event this passes in the Alabama House and Senate and be signed into law. A church police force….who would have thought? Alabamians, I urge you to contact your representatives in opposition to such a bill being passed.

    Wartburgers, I urge those of you who are disturbed by this news to post a Google review over there as well.

  77. By the way, there is a one star review over there that is quite concerning:

    “Pharisee ridden church. Go find grace elsewhere. This church will condemn you to hell before you find real salvation.”

    I wonder if this person was one of those folks who was censured in order to instill FEAR into the rest of the congregation. Perhaps a 9Marxist excommunication for leaving without there permission.

  78. If a church gets it’s own, private police force, would a theme park have the right to do the same?

  79. Dave A A wrote:

    CBHC having a secret “care list” seems on topic.
    https://www.9marks.org/mailbag/55/

    Goodness Dave, did you read the next article about whether someone would be excommunicated for marrying an unbeliever? (answer, it depends. “What that means is, with just about any sin, the question of whether or not we “should” excommunicate (remove from membership and the Lord’s Table) will almost always be, “It depends.””)

    It depends. Which a professor told me was the answer to every question, but I don’t think excommunication is the answer to any sin.

  80. siteseer wrote:

    They need new students to enroll each year. If parents see on the news that there are drug problems at the school, they may figure it’s not worth shelling out a lot of money to send their kids there.

    Especially when parents might be sending their kids to private school precisely because they think there will be less crime.

  81. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist wrote:
    I just can’t even. One simply can’t be educated in Western philosophy and ideas without this being cringe worthy. Fail.
    Who needs “Western philosophy and ideas” when you have SCRIPTURE?
    And Pastor’s VISION!

    To be fair, Western history is chocked full of church and state being the same, or connected, state religions, etc. US was trying to prevent the problems associated with that.

  82. Nicholas wrote:

    Al Mohler recently preached there

    Oh, that explains why they need a police force! If he comes back, they want to protect the good doctor and the multitude of New Calvinist groupies which follow him around. He may have even requested more security as a condition for a future speaking engagement there.

  83. How does this square against the First Amendment? Or Article Six of the US Constitution? Or Thomas Jefferson’s oft quoted Establishment clause?

    I am no law professor…but doesn’t this rebut the basic idea of separation of church and state?

  84. @ Charis:
    Yes. I believe there is a precedent to consider.
    http://www.wadeburleson.org/2009/03/your-honor-please-help-us-understand.html

    although the circumstances are not identical, that a Church was able to use law enforcement to gain information about an individual illegally is something that crosses the line you are concerned about in the present situation.

    Can a ‘Church’ use OUR law enforcement to do its bidding in ways that violate the Constitution of the United States in how it protects our citizens FROM harassment by a ‘Church’ entity????

    That is what is on everyone’s mind now in many different venues: when does the Church’s ‘rights’ to operate as ‘Church’ begin to violate a citizen’s constituionally-guaranteed rights as an American citizen???? When does the government’s rights to act on behalf of the rights of private citizens cross the line and intrude into the ‘Church’ entity’s right to ‘freedom of religion’.

    This is all fertile ground for examination PRIOR to breaking into allowing a ‘Church’ entity to have its OWN law enforcement, when one of its STATED goals includes the following:

    ” in Briarwood’s ‘Book of Church Order’, this:
    ” The design of this censure is to operate on the offender as a means of reclaiming him, to deliver the church from the scandal of his
    offense, and to inspire all with fear by the example of his discipline.” (Chapter 30:4)

    ‘TO INSPIRE ALL WITH FEAR BY THE EXAMPLE OF HIS DISCIPLINE’??????

    That a private Church police force may become an Alabama state-approved element in the creation of this fear is something that needs consideration, yes.’

  85. Christiane wrote:

    ” The design of this censure is to operate on the offender …

    This seems to be a passage on excommunication from the PCA Book of Church Order, so it’s used throughout the denomination, not just at Briarwood:

    http://www.pcahistory.org/bco/rod/30/04.html

    The language is like Cotton Mather on meth:

    30-4. Excommunication is the excision of an offender from the communion of the Church. This censure is to be inflicted only on account of gross crime or heresy and when the offender shows himself incorrigible and contumacious. The design of this censure is to operate on the offender as a means of reclaiming him, to deliver the church from the scandal of his offense, and to inspire all with fear by the example of his discipline.

    And now, back to our regularly scheduled contumely…

  86. I gather that the Book of Church Order is for the entire denomination.

    On Briarwood’s site there is a section on church and state; apparently they had a conference on that. I did not click on any of the speeches, but if anybody is interested there it is, or seems to be.

    There is a lot of emphasis now on how to be christian in relation to our changing culture, sometimes referred to as a culture which is ‘transitioning’ and sometimes referred to as ‘post christian’. This idea of having conservative semi-separatist sub cultures in the form or mega megas offering everything but the grocery store on site is not surprising. I think it will continue to grow at least for a while.

  87. okrapod wrote:

    This idea of having conservative semi-separatist sub cultures in the form or mega megas offering everything but the grocery store on site is not surprising.

    My two primary docs left private practice to staff a clinic operated by their mega, which wanted to offer a Christian version of everything. I was a patient at the clinic for several years. Then one time the docs made a suggestion to improve the clinic. Pastor fired them on the spot. A few thousand people lost their doctors that day. The entire clinic now seems to have disappeared.

  88. Friend wrote:

    Then one time the docs made a suggestion to improve the clinic. Pastor fired them on the spot.

    I’ll wager it had something to do with stuff of a sekshul nature. Maybe contraception, or maybe treatment of STDs in real time apart from abstinence?

  89. @ Christiane:

    I have not read the PCA Book of Church Order, but at one time I had a copy of your all’s old green book of canon law. Similar idea if not identical content. My denom has some rules and procedures also. I like that just heaps better than just some all-powerful celebrity pastor who is given no instructions and who operates under no denominational constraints at all.

  90. Muff Potter wrote:

    I’ll wager it had something to do with stuff of a sekshul nature. Maybe contraception, or maybe treatment of STDs in real time apart from abstinence?

    My guess is that this was not the case. It seems the docs went in all innocence to offer an idea. They expected the answer to be yes or no, not a dismissal of their services.

    This is one of those churches with its own special pastor jet, and the law of primogeniture in the pulpit. When I asked a clinic worker if they were a denomination, I was told that denominations are of man, but they had an anointed ministry.

  91. A note:

    Brierwood is not the only entity that might get police power. According to Brandon Mosely at http://www.alreporter.com :

    “Thursday, March 9, 2017, the Alabama House of Representatives voted to give the Poarch Creek Indian Tribal Police State Police powers, equivalent to those exercised by local Police departments and Sheriff’s departments across the country. HB294 is sponsored by State Connie Rowe (R-Jasper).”

    The Poarch Creek Indians run the Casinos in the state of Alabama.

  92. In my opinion, the Alabama senate judiciary committee needs to red the First Amendment, particularly the Establishment Clause and check out the last 70 years of Supreme Court jurisprudence on this issue. I haven’t read the bill, but at first glance this seems almost certainly doomed to be struck down on constitutional grounds even if it does pass.

  93. Apparently guns.com has picked up this story and posted it on Facebook as well. Interesting discussion….

  94. @ Brother Maynard:

    Thanks for letting us know. The guns.com article states:

    http://www.guns.com/2017/03/21/bill-would-allow-alabama-church-to-form-police-department/

    The Briarwood Presbyterian Church, with its 4,100 faithful, would be the first church in the state with such a department, according to the Associated Press. With a theological seminary that boasts some 2,000 students and teachers, church leaders say they want to be able to protect themselves.

    Theological seminary? I thought it housed a private school (grades K-12). Here’s a link to the school website.

    http://briarwoodchristianschool.org/

  95. Deb wrote:

    Theological seminary? I thought it housed a private school (grades K-12).

    Obviously either guns.com got it wrong or Briarwood has some real delusions of grandeur.

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