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ACLJ Victory Report: Churches Have Equal Right to Police Protection

The steeple of The First Congregational Church is juxtaposed with fall colors in Sharon, Connecticut.

Vandals, thieves, and arsonists have targeted Bible Presbyterian Church of Charlotte, North Carolina, for over two years, destroying thousands of dollars worth of equipment and burning down one of the church's buildings.

Unable to prevent these senseless criminal acts on its own, the church reached out to local law enforcement. Officers of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department were more than willing to help, but their superiors would not allow them to assist the church. Why? Simply because it is a religious organization.

The department's treatment of churches and religious organizations as second-class citizens undeserving of basic police protections is yet another example of the confusion that results from the absurd and distorted understanding in our culture of the principle of "separation of church and state."

Upon learning of this situation, the ACLJ quickly sent a letter to the department to inform them that churches enjoy the same right to protection as other citizens and demanding that the department correct its error.

To its credit, the department reversed course and changed its policy to provide the same protections to religious organizations that it offers to other property owners. It is encouraging to see, after decades of fighting for the protection of religious liberties, how quickly we can resolve many of these situations simply by educating churches about their rights and government agencies about their duty to treat religious groups on the same footing as other citizens.

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