Atheists to Sue Alabama City After Police Partner With Pastors to Fight Crime With Christianity

Operation Good Shepherd ssMONTGOMERY, Ala. — A prominent atheist organization states that it plans to sue an Alabama city that was recently in headlines surrounding the launch of a new program that unites area pastors and police in reaching the hurting in the community.

As previously reported, this past summer, the Montgomery Police Department launched Operation Good Shepherd in response to the city’s high homicide rate, as Montgomery fears being on the path to becoming one of the most violent cities per capita in America. According to WSFA, the outreach program was modeled after the Police and Clergy Working Together (PACT) program in Dayton, Ohio.

“[F]aith leaders attend weekly classes in which police teach them ways they can discourage crime and show them exactly what’s happening in their communities,” the outlet explained.

Pastors are to accompany police at crime scenes, as well counsel and pray with those present, and attend monthly meetings to discuss areas of concern in regard to criminal activity in the city. Police training includes gang awareness and how to spot illegal drug activity.

Nearly 40 area clergy have completed the training, which were all recognized during a recent ceremony at Montgomery City Hall. Police chief Kevin Murphy issued diplomas to the pastors as their names were called.

“They’re going to make a difference, and they’re going to help everyone in their time of need see that change can be made,” Corporal David Hicks told those gathered.

However, once the group American Atheists of Cranford, New Jersey learned of the matter, it sent a letter to city officials demanding that they dissolve the new program.

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“[A]ny plan by public officials to engage in a scheme to promote Christianity using public funds and public officials is blatantly and facially unconstitutional under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which states, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,’” the correspondence asserted.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) also sent a letter to city leaders, advising that residents in the state had complained about the effort. The Alabama chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has requested records surrounding the program before it formulates an opinion.

“If we sue, which we will, it will end up costing the state of Alabama thousands of dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars,” American Atheists attorney Edwin Kagan told

He asserts that the law enforcement program is actually against the law itself.

But Public Safety Director Chis Murphy told the publication that some misunderstand the intent of the program.

“The purpose is crime prevention, not religious recruitment,” he stated.

“We took careful strides when we first organized this to make sure it was broad-based and not just Christian,” Murphy added to the Montgomery Advisor.

He noted that the city also spoke with Jewish and Muslim communities while developing the crime-fighting initiative.

Murphy also says that he discussed the matter with the Montgomery mayor and police chief—along with the city attorney—and that Operation Good Shepherd will move forward. The city plans to draft a response to all concerned parties, but American Atheists has said it would sue if the program is not disbanded.

“This is the sector (the clergy) that raised their hands and said they wanted to help,” Montgomery public safety spokesperson Martha Earnhardt told reporters. “Lots of people have responded and that’s the key to crime prevention.”

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  • Mark Moore

    Unfortunately high crime rates have been associated with Christianity in several ways. Christians per capita are about 150 times more likely to go to prison than atheists. Christians in controlled studies are more likely to commit fraud to put money in their pockets and the more religious they are the more they are likely to cheat.

    Using the government to proselytize Christianity is the exact opposite of what they should be doing to bring crime down.

    • Rickuh

      Huh? I’ve never heard of these “controlled studies”. What are your sources?

    • banana breath

      lol, apparently lying didn’t make it on this atheists list of his moral relativity list. I could be wrong however, considering Atheists are always such saints. That 150x number sounds really realistic to me 😉

    • paul

      How many atheists and Christians could it be just a numbers game.
      Who cares what someone else believes.
      My religion is don’t mess with me and I don’t give a damm what you do.

  • m saeger

    Where did you get your statistics? I don’t believe them.
    Sadly, most atheists are too pompous to even consider a god, much less The God. Most enjoy belittling and demeaning Christians. I don’t understand that concept.

    • ultprinefan

      @m saeger-don’t believe statistics, yet u believe supernatural beings live in the sky? ooooooook. Christians feel belittled and demeaned and u don’t understand? Does it do any good to point out that religion has retarded the advancement of civilization, devastated humanity and has and keeps our world torn apart? All of u spout off about how our “Christian founding fathers, founded this Christian nation, for Christians on Judeo-Christian principals”. U conveniently forget to mention they came with their bibles, were murderers, thieves, enslavers, deniers of human and civil rights who slaughtered the Indians, stole their land, crushed their culture and spirit, enslaved and lynched blacks and told them, “u should thank us, jesus, and god. Face up to it and admit it, the resentment against religion-it’s what u get, for what u gave, u brought it on urselves.

      • m saeger

        You’re on a rant so I will ignore you.
        If and when you know the entire history of both old and new testaments, it could be an interesting conversation.
        Otherwise, you are just posting to insult and demean.
        God loves you anyway, as He loves everyone.

      • You assume that we believe God is in the sky. No , God is in heaven. a place no by distance but in the spiritual realm. From the place that birthed what scientists call the ‘Cosmic soup’ that formed the universe and everything in it. Atheism destroys hope and hopelessness leads to depression , suicidal behavior , rape and unsolved cold blooded murders.Also satan reads the bible also and not everyone who claims to be Christian are actually Christian just as not every atheist that claims to be atheist is actually atheist.

      • banana breath

        of course m seager doesn’t believe them. Who would? How does the phrase go – I was born in a day but not yesterday. Like Atheists have some sort of great track record. please. Yet you believe life came from no life, everything came from nothing, and genetics somehow intelligently programmed itself without any intelligence. oooooooook…….You go with yer bad self.

  • Maria Craib

    Ed Baker we know there IS a God. You can”t prove there isn’t and we can’t prove there is, except by archaelogical “proofs” that show the bible to be correct. No one was there in the beginning so atheism is in fact a belief system. Very sad for you cause when you die you will meet this God that you say doesn’t exist. There is an eternal price to pay for denying Gods’ Son’s free gift of salvation.

  • Glenn

    These atheists blame God or Christ or Christians for the all the sufferings in the world. They talk about discrimination and slavery which they mistakenly blame of God whom they owe their very lives and who breathe the air that is not theirs to begin with. This news turn the tables back on them. They are like doctors who prevent people from taking medicine when they are sick. This is the worst attitude a person could do to someone else. Christ has never preached violence or hatred. He had always done good to people e.g. healed the sick, liberate women fr discrimination, showed compassion and mercy. The only thing that he promoted to hate is sin and people. People may hav committed or been committing many mistakes but it does not mean that CHrist is also like that. Whereever this guy got his statistics makes me think that the study had some bias on it just to discredit Christ.

    • Glenn


      The only thing that he promoted to hate is sin and people.

      It should be : The only thing that he promoted to hate is sin.

  • Jacob

    Could we please be polite to one another? I am a “born again Christian” and I will stand on the word of God. There are others above who would say the same but have been very cruel in their responses to atheism, and there are a number of atheists or those that deny Christ at the least that have stated things in a very very arrogant, demeaning and disrespectful way. I would like to mention two things:

    1. To the Christians: we are called both to love the unbelievers and proclaim the gospel to the people. This is not effectively done when what we say essentially shows hatred towards them in the words we speak. Jesus spoke of the evil that comes from our heart, and the damage that our tongues can have on people. Atheists can indeed be intelligent in many things, if you are going to counter their intelligence then provide an intelligent response to their argument, or if you don’t have one, do your homework and find one or a resource that has one. I do not say this to be demeaning to my brothers and sisters in Christ, because I myself am not studied enough in apologetics yet (though God willing I will be eventually) to formulate a well written response yet, but I know people who have. Please show your love for our atheist brothers and sisters by being polite in conversation. What I say to Christians comes with greater reproof and rebuke because you claim the name of Christ and so I will hold you to his standards.

    2. To the atheists and unbelievers: Please forgive the Christians who have offended you and been unkind and unloving to you. You must know that we too are imperfect and have sinned. I agree with some previous commenters that many claim to be Christians and simply aren’t, these people are “nominal Christians” and probably actually outnumber the number of true born again Christians in North America. Whether or not they actually live as Christians does not absolve them from the fact that they have been unloving towards you. To break this cycle of disrespect that we see between atheism and Christianity people on both sides need to put away bitterness, and arrogance and love the other. I have had many non-Christians and atheists laugh in my face, cuss me out and tell me I’m an idiot for believing the Bible and not kissing my wife before the wedding day because I believed I should follow Biblical standards of purity that are different from that of culture. Please show some respect for us as well. We Christians do have our flaws, and I admit it, and honestly I can understand why for the most part you look at Christianity and think we lack intelligence. Let me present you with some resources that actually do show some intelligence in arguing for the existence of God.
    Dr William Lane Craig is a noted philosopher, theologian and debater and has actually debated with most of the leading atheists of today (Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris etc.) and you can actually watch these debates and decide for yourself who comes out with a stronger argument. Many resources are available at the site mentioned below. Just do a search of different issues you have with God, like the problem of evil and suffering or creation on the website to look up different questions that he’s answered or podcasts on those subjects etc. Or check out debates that he’s done with scholars and other notable people. It is unwise for Christians and atheists alike to choose a side without listening to the other.

  • Marc

    We have rampant religious bigotry in this Country and it is usually because of Christians, usually the newest, out marketing and preaching before they have even had a chance to study and follow the bible..I have studied all religion and am not an atheist. However, I am consistently pressured by outside forces to try and recognize one religion over another. I am consistently forced to see government and others promote 1 religion over all others. In many States, Atheists can’t even hold office..and you wonder why they don’t fight you where they can. I have heard about the War on Christianity..well, it is certainly a war not started by other people..they are defending their many people can say Christians can’t legally hold office in the US? None..but Atheists cannot in 7 States…the term Christianity has been watered down and it has become too easy with little work and little “lead by example”. I have met some of the best of friends who are Christian and I love them dearly…I have also met the majority of crooked people in business, which have almost all been Christian..its’ a word used that many of us find hard to define