Police and Pastors Can’t Partner in City-Sponsored Program, Says Humanist Group
For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org
David Niose, 202-238-9088 ext. 119, email@example.com
Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Washington, D.C., Nov. 11, 2014)—Today the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter on behalf of a concerned citizen to city officials in Fort Worth, Texas, concerning an unconstitutional partnership between the local police department and religious leaders.
The City of Fort Worth has instituted a project called The Clergy and Police Alliance Program (CAPA), which trains clergy to act as beat partners to police officers while they are on duty. According to the letter, the program also encourages members of the clergy to pray for the city and police department, and to use the program as an extension of their ministry outreach. The letter also includes images of CAPA’s Facebook page, which includes Christian imagery and the emblem of the program, which prominently features a large, Christian cross.
“The potential for abuse of power in a program like this is deeply worrisome,” said Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “The program violates the Establishment Clause’s requirement of separation of church and state on a fundamental level, giving clergy government support to proselytize religion or coerce citizens into praying.”
“Police departments are in the business of protecting the people, not promoting religious agendas,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “The city should respect the rights of its citizens who are members of religious minorities and citizens with no religion.”
The letter demands that the city terminate the program and any similar activity. It also warns that failure to do so could result in a lawsuit against the city.
A copy of the letter can be viewed here.
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other non-religious Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.