Group wants Detroit police to stop holding graduations in churches

1/2/2020
A.D.M
2:50 p.m.

Detroit — A Wisconsin-based group wants Detroit police to uphold the separation of church and cops, but police chief James Craig said the demand doesn't have a prayer. The Freedom from Religion Foundation of Madison, Wisconsin, recently sent Craig a letter complaining that Police Academy graduations are held at Greater Grace Temple on Seven Mile, which it says violates the Constitution.
Second Ebenezer Church on Dequindre also hosts Detroit police graduation ceremonies, although the Dec. 12 letter didn't mention that facility.

“The selection of any house of worship as a site for City-sponsored events demonstrates the City’s preference for religion over non-religion, and in particular Christianity over all other faiths,” the letter said. “This sends a message to graduates and members of the audience who are non-adherents that they are outsiders. "The use of churches for public ceremonies is inappropriate, and raises many constitutional concerns. We urge you to refrain from using houses of worship for future public events," the letter said.
According to the letter, which was unsigned, a "concerned citizen" contacted the foundation and complained about the practice of holding police graduations in churches.
Despite the group's objections, Craig said he'll continue using churches for graduations and other events.
"We stand firm," the chief said. "As an option, we'll continue to use houses of worship for our graduations. That doesn't mean we're forcing our religious beliefs on anyone. One factor is, these churches donate the space, so there's no cost to taxpayers.
“The selection of any house of worship as a site for City-sponsored events demonstrates the City’s preference for religion over non-religion, and in particular Christianity over all other faiths,” the letter said. “This sends a message to graduates and members of the audience who are non-adherents that they are outsiders.
"The use of churches for public ceremonies is inappropriate, and raises many constitutional concerns. We urge you to refrain from using houses of worship for future public events," the letter said.
According to the letter, which was unsigned, a "concerned citizen" contacted the foundation and complained about the practice of holding police graduations in churches.
Despite the group's objections, Craig said he'll continue using churches for graduations and other events.
"We stand firm," the chief said. "As an option, we'll continue to use houses of worship for our graduations. That doesn't mean we're forcing our religious beliefs on anyone. One factor is, these churches donate the space, so there's no cost to taxpayers.
"We could hold the ceremonies downtown, but then people would have to find parking, and pay money for that," Craig said. "So this saves taxpayer money, and it saves money to the families of our graduates."
Police departments across the country hold graduation ceremonies in churches. The Illinois State Police commemorations are held at Hope Church in Springfield, while in Mobile, Alabama, Cottage Hill Baptist Church hosts the city's police graduations.
As recently as 2008, Detroit police graduations were held at the former Cobo Center, although in 2012 the ceremony was held at Second Ebenezer Church. Most of the ceremonies have since been held in Greater Grace or Second Ebenezer.
For decades, Detroit churches have hosted other city-sanctioned events, including police gun buyback programs and safety seminars. In 2010, Second Ebenezer hosted "Fugitive Safe Surrender," in which people with outstanding warrants turned themselves in at the church, and their cases were adjudicated in the sanctuary by prosecutors and public defenders.
Group wants Detroit police to stop holding graduations in churches Group wants Detroit police to stop holding graduations in churches Reviewed by Anson Moore on January 02, 2020 Rating: 5

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