Indiana Trooper Sued for Sharing Gospel During Traffic Stop

Indiana State PoliceUNION COUNTY, Indiana — A police officer in Indiana has been leveled with a lawsuit for sharing the gospel with a driver during a traffic stop.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is representing complainant Ellen Bogan, 60, who claims that Indiana State Police trooper Brian Hamilton violated her constitutional rights by asking her about her religious beliefs after he pulled her over for an alleged traffic violation.

According to reports, the incident occurred in August in Union County, Indiana. Hamilton gave her a warning about making an illegal pass—and then asked her if she went to church anywhere. He also reportedly asked her if she had accepted Jesus as her Lord and savior.

“I’m not affiliated with any church. I don’t go to church,” Bogan told the Indianapolis Star. “I felt compelled to say I did, just because I had a state trooper standing at the passenger-side window. It was just weird.”

The trooper then asked Bogan if he could give her a tract, and he went to his vehicle to retrieve it for her.

“The whole time, his lights were on,” she said. “I had no reason to believe I could just pull away at that point, even though I had my warning.”

Bogan later contacted the Indiana State Police to lodge a complaint and request an investigation. She also enlisted the assistance of the ACLU to file a lawsuit claiming that Hamilton violated her First and Fourth Amendment rights by speaking to her about matters of faith and handing her a tract that asks the recipient to “realize you’re a sinner” and “realize the Lord Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sins.”

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The tract, which was from First Baptist Church of Cambridge City, also advertised for a Christian radio broadcast called “Policing for Jesus” with trooper Dan Jones.

The Indiana State Police told reporters that it cannot comment on pending litigation, but advised that the department does not have a policy surrounding the distribution of religious literature.

Micah Clark of the American Family Association of Indiana told the Indianapolis Star that he doesn’t think Hamilton did anything that would warrant punishment.

“I have people pass out religious material all the time. Mormons come to my door all the time, and it doesn’t offend me,” he said. “[A traffic stop] might not be the most persuasive time to talk to someone about their faith, but I don’t think that a police officer is prohibited from doing something like that.”

Bogan is seeking damages of an unspecified amount over Hamilton’s roadside evangelism.

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  • James Grimes

    Was she so sensitive and so offended that she felt compelled to file a lawsuit against someone whose intentions were only for good. A simple “thank you” would have been the appropriate response.

    This is the damage that Liberalism and Atheism have caused in this country. The downward spiral continues.

    • LostBoyPA

      James. He’s a state employee. While he is on duty, he is beholden to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, just like any other government employee. What he did was unconstitutional.

      • So….do you hold yourself to this perfect standard on your own job ? I mean if you were to give yourself a personal audit on the Job against every rule your job has, would you be found blameless ?

        • BarkingDawg

          What does that have to do with this situation? The trooper was taking advantage of his position of power to proselytize while officially on duty.

          This is a clear violation of the establishment clause.

        • LostBoyPA

          I’m self-employed, and BarkingDawg is right – my job has nothing to do with this situation.

          What the trooper did is clearly unconstitutional.

      • Carol Cantell Moorby

        Sad to say but you probably a lost boy….policemen are ” ministers” of God according to the holy Bible..therefore it’s not unconstitutional at all

        • BarkingDawg


          “policemen are ” ministers” of God according to the holy Bible..therefore it’s not unconstitutional at all.”


          What? That is just plain incorrect.

        • Grazzly

          Your invisible friend has no bearing on our Constitution.

    • Jason Young

      James, Would you say the same if he was Muslim and giving out Islamic information?

      • If it were a Muslim officer giving out info , or an atheist, I would take my ticket and move on…..cowards sue people for such as this, the court system is to good for such garbage to bog it down, there are real issues that are years in wait because of this type of stupidity….

    • John Munro

      It happens because we allow it! Its about time to fight tooth and nail and against the Hatred towards our Christian Nation. What they do is Sedition against our Constitution. If Adolf were allowed in he would also use our laws to persecute

      • bencassel

        Cite the Constitutional article and section that you feel is being violated by restricting the speech of a government representative during the time s/he is representing the government?

        The free exercise of religion has limitations, just as freedom of speech does. The classic examples include shouting fire when there is no fire; slander; libel; divulging government or corporate secrets; and using one’s government position to spread his/her religious or political beliefs.

        • John Munro

          The declaration of Inderpendence for starters!

    • Russell Ledo

      you don’t get it do you? I’m an Atheist, its my own personal belief, yet you people feel that its your right to push what you believe down everyone’s throat, yes i get offended when you try to push your beliefs on me

      • James Grimes

        I’m not interested.

        • SashaC

          Classic James. “La la la! I’m not listening!” 😉

  • When your share the Gospel on the job it’s risky. My husband knows this all too well- he’s a trucker and when he’s not OTR he’s working at the company’s warehouse. One of his co-workers even hissed at him when he found out the big guy was a Christian.

    • BarkingDawg

      He probably didn’t want to get preached at.

      • No, he like legit hissed. Which was just plain weird. The guy had asked if he was a Christian b/c big man doesn’t like to hear a lot of swearing as it is kind of hard to understand someone when they’re using the f word like it’s the word “the”. So his co-worker said “what are you a Christian?!” and being honest, he said “Yep, I am.” and then the guy hissed at him. LOL

    • LostBoyPA

      The difference here is, your husband is an OTR trucker. Unless he’s driving government contracts, he’s free to say what he likes, provided it doesn’t violate his employer’s conduct policies.

      A state trooper is a government employee. Thus, he is bound by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Big difference there.

      • No, I agree with you. A police officer should be worrying more about doing his job. If he wants to preach, he can do that on his off-time.

  • BarkingDawg

    I predict that the state will settle out of court, then immediately amend it’s policies to include the prohibition of the distribution of religeous materials while on duty.

  • anon

    finally changed the car to the right state

  • LostBoyPA

    This is very simple, people. A State Trooper is a government employee. As such, he is bound by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, and can not favor any religion in the course of his official duties. I don’t see why this is so hard for people to understand. It’s the First Amendment – it’s not like it was added later. It was there from the word go. And it’s there to prevent America from becoming a theocracy.

    • So what about when the President is breaking this rule saying we are not a Christian nation and favoring of Muslims ……… who will cut of your head for not saying Allah is your God and living under strict rule to please Allah….seems a little one sided to me! no one seems to speak against that. Its only when its a Christian. That’s why no one gets it because we as a country are under double standards. So we default to moral right and wrong.

      • LostBoyPA

        “So we default to moral right and wrong.”

        No religion has a monopoly on morality. I’m an Atheist, and I’ve probably got more moral fiber than most Christians, a fact proven almost daily by news reports of Christians behaving badly (See Also: Catholic Priests, Megachurch Pastors, Youth Leaders, Newt Gingrich)

      • Norma Ross

        I agree with you Wes. When a Christian speaks out for his faith, he is considered wrong but let a Muslim speak out about anything and society bows down and says “whatever you want, it is yours”. Is it out of fear, because their Koran says “kill the infidel” which is anyone who is not Muslim.

    • Jud Bennett

      Hey LostBoyPA. There are very few rational people posting here and they are rare gems when you can find one. When it comes to the debating with the rest it’s like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter how right you are, they’re going to crap on the board and strut around like they won anyway.

    • James Grimes

      First Amendment: “Congress shall not establish…”

      • LostBoyPA

        Second Amendment: “A well regulated militia…”

        Here’s the trick, James. The Supreme Court has indeed interpreted the 2nd Amendment as rights for everyone. BUT. It has also interpreted the 1st as applying to all government institutions, including state police.

        This man has no business evangelizing ANY religion while he’s collecting a taxpayer-bankrolled paycheck.

        Kindly deal with it.

  • Carol Cantell Moorby

    But if he had preached OBAMAS government candidates he would have been celebrated! Double standards for sure.If he had preached Muslim religion he would have gotten away Scott free. By the way…how many of you know that the Bible says that policemen are ministers of God so he has every right to share the gospel on or off duty.

    • bencassel

      I think you are dead wrong on both counts. I am certain that political campaigning would violate state laws or at least employment standards for police.

      Had the proselytizing been Muslim in nature, it would have been as clear a Constitutional violation as the case under question, and the ACLU and Americans United would have taken it. It makes no difference what religion the police officer was improperly using his government position to preach, he was wrong in doing so.

      As for your contention that policemen are ministers of God, giving them the right to share the gospel on or off duty, you are wrong on several levels. On a simple level, I think you’re biblically wrong. If you are using Romans 13 as your basis, consider how dangerous and evil it would be to take that chapter literally. But of primary importance if we are going to maintain a free society, we must remember that ours is a secular society, and a society of laws. The Bible is not an adopted law book, so even if your contention were correct, it would not be relevant.

  • Carol Cantell Moorby

    Bottom line here is those who reject Jesus will not be Heaven bound. Guess where they will go? God used this man to give her a chance to get ” saved” .She didn’t say no to the policeman but to God.At judgment day she will stand before The Lord to,give an account of herself and she will,NOT be able to say, “I didn’t know” because this is all on record.,Sje had the opportunity and she turned it down!

    • Sheesh

      This lady is a complete waste of space, a brainless delusional “human” whose brain utterly failed to develop past the age of 10. She posts on her fb page that her former employer was isagenix international, an mlm scam that has duked thousands out of their money promising weight loss and riches while having absolutely no evidence that their products work. HMMMMM…multi level marketing and Christianity sound pretty darn similar to me. Hurry up an die you old hateful skin bag.

      • bencassel

        Hey, nice job exhibiting the love that passeth all understanding.

  • BarkingDawg

    Don’t wory about the trooper, he probably won’t lose his job. The Union will protect him.

    He will, undoubtably recieve a negative performance review as a result of this, however.

  • Kevin

    The police officer should have never proselytized to someone while in the course of his duties since he is bound by the First Amendment. Should there be a law suit? I don’t think so but calling someone a coward for it is easy to do when you, yourself, are playing on the internet and writing with a certain degree of anonymity.

    What is this non-sense about policemen are ministers unto god? Really? The United States is not now nor has it ever been a “christian nation”. Everyone including actual Christians should want to rail against a theocracy even one based on the christian bible; although, some of the debauchery in the bible might be welcome. Just because theocracies in the Middle East are painful doesn’t mean one based on the christian religion is going to be any less painful. Please be careful what you wish for…..

    Since someone brought up the President, he should be neutral to all religions. If he is favoring one over the other then it should be stopped. You all must be watching Fox News and The 700 Club. My mother talks about the same things and that’s what she watches. Some people will believe anything that they hear about the President no matter how ridiculous and then wonder why people might think they are racist.

    The people of the US used to be fearless and now anything can scare them.

  • Grazzly

    Sue this piece of garbage till his children go hungry.

  • jmichael39

    It honestly doesn’t matter what his job. It is frankly, not appropriate to be evangelizing on the job.

    • Sha-wei

      I agree. While I appreciate the zeal of someone mindful of the Great Commission, and of his “be(ing) prepared in season and out of season (to) preach the word”, discretion is also called for in deciding when to speak and when to be silent, for “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity”.

      As such, it is wiser to opt out of direct evangelism WHEN one holds temporal authority over another (after all, what good is a “captive audience”?), and instead, like the “open letters” that we are, let our actions and how we carry ourselves be our best testimony of a God-centered life.

  • BarkingDawg

    This is a cut and dried violation of the Establishment Clause.

    It is so blatantly obvious a violation that you really have to wonder about the processes that the state uses to screen out and train recruits.

    This is a no-brainier. Once the trooper puts on the uniform, he or she is no longer an individual, but rather an official agent of the government.

    If the trooper is unable to separate his personal religious activities from his official government activities , then he needs to find a new line of work outside of the government.

  • Norma Ross

    It’s O.K. If a man beheads a woman because of different religious beliefs. The major media do not even cover it. But a policeman sharing a tract on his religious beliefs get put on the news everywhere and sued! How outrageous this time of life is. Revelations talks about great persecution in the end times. I guess it is here!

  • PaulioliRavioli

    Oh how I wish this state trooper had pulled me over on August 10, 2014. I would gladly accept the pamphlet, if needed fix pipes in his church at my cost, and have $54.00 more. I did not get an invitation to church, or salvation. I got a ticket. I am not the brightest bulb in the drawer but Jesus Christ rose up from death. No one else in 2014 years has ever pulled that one off. To me it is basic common sence to pay careful attention to his instructions.