Atheist group claims BPD chief uses job to promote Christianity - WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

Atheist group claims BPD chief uses job to promote Christianity

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BIRMINGHAM, AL - An atheist group is accusing Birmingham’s Police Chief of mixing his job with his religion.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation says Police Chief A.C. Roper is misusing his position to promote Christianity. They issued a seven-page letter to Roper and posted a 10-minute YouTube video to express their criticism of his prayer walks. 

Roper, a Christian minister, has teamed up with Prayer Force United to hold prayer walks in communities throughout Birmingham. 

The FFRF also claims the chief leads Christian prayers at police gatherings; both activities, they say, are unconstitutional and are a misuse of his power as police chief. 

"We don't care if Chief Roper is a minister or Christian. He's free to worship and believe how he chooses. But he's not allowed to use government office to promote those beliefs. To favor his religion and to alienate all the non Christians in Birmingham," the FFRF's letter read.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has a history of taking legal action against religious events across the country.

And while the letter to Roper has no legal significance, an attorney Gayle Gear says it certainly lays the groundwork for future legal action. 

With a background in constitutional law, Gear says she thought the letter was unnecessary but thinks there are some issues that need to be examined by he city's legal department.

"The first amendment does protect us from a government imposing a religion. So to the extent there is some imposition of a religion that needs to be examined, and quite frankly, that can easily be examined and resolved," she said.

The only legal action this group can take against Roper is to file an injunction that would stop his participation in these prayer walks as police chief. 

"As long as we can separate the actions of the government from the actions of the individual, that is all that is required," she explained. 
The Birmingham Police Department says they have no comment on this at this time.

There is another prayer walk planned for this Saturday in the Bush Hills Neighborhood. 
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