Cops & Clergy, United?

Jefferson Parish, Louisiana is located in the southeast part of the state. On the website of the local Sheriff’s office, they have one section that seems questionable.

It’s called Cops & Clergy.

The Jefferson Cops and Clergy Coalition is an educational clearinghouse for faith-based and community organizations interested in networking, learning about potential financing sources and community event planning. The Jefferson Cops and Clergy is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. The coalition is a partnership between local faith-based entities and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

The Jefferson Cops and Clergy Coalition is inviting all local churches and faith-based organizations involved in the African American Committees to join its organization. The coalition works together to fill the social needs of Jefferson Parish in an effort to eradicate crime, violence and juvenile delinquency in the parish.

How is this not a violation of the First Amendment?

Reader Doug is a Louisiana resident who writes:

I am very much in favor of the police working to reduce crime, and an obvious way to do that is to have a relationship with institutions that may be able to positively influence potential criminals. However, having police involvement to the extent of working WITH religious institutions as a distribution center for religious activities and even aiding them in fund raising is going over the line.

What if this involvement later lead to police biases in the community such as the protection of abortion clinics, prosecution of child molesting priests, the regulation of gay rallies, etc?

For what it’s worth, I’ve passed the information along to the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

(Thanks to Doug for the link!)

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  • mathyoo

    why can’t the police there just work with any community organization to “eradicate crime, violence and juvenile delinquency”? You’d think that they’d be open to working with any organization, not just the faith-based ones. I applaud them working with the community, but they need to open it up to all community organizations.

  • Michael

    It doesn’t seem like a problem to me. As they say, Jefferson Cops and Clergy is a separate 501(c)(3), which means it’s not part of the JPSO.
    Second, even if Jefferson Cops and Clergy were a government-run organization, as long as they treated all religions equally, there would be no Establishment Clause violation.