BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The wife of Alabama’s chief justice, who became known as the ‘Ten Commandments judge,’ is defending an Alabama police chief from atheist attacks and is demanding that efforts from the church-state separation group cease and desist.
As previously reported, the Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) recently sent a letter to Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper to assert that his actions are unconstitutional and offensive to non-Christians.
Roper, an ordained minister, is involved with the initiative Prayer Force United, a coalition between the chief, area churches and local residents to host monthly prayer walks and faith-based gatherings in areas of Birmingham that are most affected by crime.
“We understand that a police cruiser leads these prayer walks with lights flashing, followed by a truck with a sound system that ‘cranks up some gospel music,’” the letter from FFRF outlined. “At the end, a ‘worship team [is] going full bore, just praising Jesus.’ Then the ‘local pastor introduces the police chief,’ and you then give a sermon invoking Jesus several times.”
The group stated in its correspondence to Roper that the organization finds a promotional video of the effort to be inappropriate, as it shows the chief stating that he is “claiming the city of Birmingham for the Kingdom of God” and declaring that the largest problem in the city is a “lack of godliness.”
“If you wish to participate in religious events, you must do so as a private citizen, without using your office, title, and badge,” the letter stated. “Prayer Force United’s explicitly stated goals are all religious—your official participation is therefore unconstitutional.”
But Roper told reporters that he is not ashamed of his Christian beliefs and is unapologetic for the work that has been done to fight crime in Birmingham.
“Obviously, it’s no secret that I support the prayer walks and many other faith-based community events as one tool in our overall crime-fighting strategy,” he told AL.com. “We have built strong partnerships with various groups, and I believe they have done a wonderful job committing their assets and assisting us in addressing various issues that affect crime.”
Last week, Kayla Moore, president of the Foundation for Moral Law and wife of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore—also known as the “Ten Commandments judge”—sent a letter to FFRF to demand that the organization discontinue its interference with Roper’s right to acknowledge God in his official capacity.
“Members of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, please cease and desist your harassment of Chief Roper immediately,” the letter stated. “Your efforts to prevent him from acknowledging God and invoke His guidance and protection will not dissuade Chief Roper.”
“His task of providing protection for the citizens of his city and caring for the men and women of his department carries a heavy weight in and of itself,” it continued. “If you wish to make his job harder in efforts to fulfill your own personal goal of eradicating God from society, it is your right, but please do not misuse the Constitution of our great nation to accomplish your goal.”
There is no word at this time as to whether FFRF plans to respond to the correspondence or discontinue its communication with Roper.