Last week, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley released his “Summer Safety Initiative Plan” with goals of reducing shootings, instituting a curfew for kids, providing safe spaces for children to play, etc. All good things.
But let’s take a look at that bit about curfew.
What happens to kids who are caught violating it?
Two Juvenile Curfew Centers will be established. One at Church of the Living God, 434 Forest Avenue, Pastor Ennis Tait and the other at First Baptist Church of Cumminsville, 6045 Tahiti Drive, Pastor George Southerland on District 4 and 5. The Curfew Centers will be staffed by Clergy, Citizens on Patrol and 3 officers each supplied by third relief supervisors. The hours will be Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 p.m. until 2:30 a.m.
So kids who are out late will be taken to one of two local churches, where Christian leaders are handed fresh meat to preach the gospel to?
That can’t be legal. And the Mayor’s office realized it after several people pointed out the unconstitutional nature of that approach.
That’s why they worked quickly to change the plan:
The city will now switch those centers from churches to recreation centers.
CPD officials said several people called to complain about kids being potentially indoctrinated and officials said callers want to keep the line between church and state drawn.
There you go. That was easy, wasn’t it?
As you can imagine, the church leaders are furious:
“It was a real bombshell for me,” said pastor Ennis Tait, of Church of the Living God. “It was not only a setback for the chief’s plan, it was a setback for the involvement of the church.”
“To use the separation of church and state as an issue to save lives means the law can come between us saving lives and us keeping kids safe” said Tait.
Believe it or not, kids will find a way to stay safe even if Christians aren’t proselytizing to them. It’s the involvement of the churches that’s scary, not the changing of the venues.
There’s a rebuttal to be made that if the churches promised not to proselytize, this might have been okay… but would you really trust them to keep their faith to themselves?
If the initial plan involved taking kids to a local mosque, this would be a no-brainer. For the same reason, it’s best to just keep religion out of it, especially when secular alternatives are readily available.
On a side note, it’s nice to see this issue resolved without a church/state separation group like the Freedom From Religion Foundation getting involved. It was the citizens who raised the concern and forced the city to fix the problem. Good for them!
(Thanks to Brian for the link)