The Alabama Senate has granted a large church the right to create their own police force.
Christian Today reports that the 4,000-member church says it needs its own police force to keep its congregation safe, especially with the many events the church holds every year and the increased violence directed at church congregations.
Attorney Eric Johnston, who is behind the bill, stressed the need Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham has for the police force:
“We’ve got over 30,000 events a year that take place at Briarwood – going on all day, all night, at the school, at the church, at the seminary,” said Johnston. “We have to hire policemen all the time. It would be so much easier to have someone on staff.”
The bill passed in a 24-4 vote.
Critics of the bill, however, say that granting a church its own police force is an unprecedented move and could lead to covering up of abuse within the church.
Alabama has previously granted private universities their own police force, but has never done so before for a church.
Alabama has also recently been dealing with a scandal at its highest levels of government. The state’s governor, Robert Bentley resigned on Monday, following allegations of extramarital affairs and misusing campaign funds.