A similar bill was proposed four years ago, but it was dropped by the Alabama legislature amid a public outcry over the Presbyterian Church in America’s racist history, as well as criticism that the bill was unconstitutional and violated the Establishment Clause’s separation of church and state. Briarwood Presbyterian is part of the PCA.
Briarwood Presbyterian’s congregation is overwhelmingly white. Nearby Birmingham is two-thirds black.
Officials at Briarwood Presbyterian Church say that a police force is necessary in order to adequately protect its 4,100 members, including 2,000 students and faculty on its two campuses.
The officers will complete state certified training by the Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission. The officers will also be trained on the proper use of a non-lethal weapon.
The ACLU of Alabama tweeted the new law undermines the separation of church and state are is “a threat to our freedom of religion and a violation of the Establishment Clause.”
“We expect this law to be challenged in the courts,” it said.
The new law is expected to go into effect in the fall.