Those of us living near the city have to brace ourselves whenever the Chicago Police Department is in the news… but I guess it could be worse this time around.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation claims that several events run by the CPD promote religion and have to end immediately.
1) Several events include Christian invocations:
… many Department events include invocations and benedictions, typically delivered by [police chaplain] Father Daniel Brandt. We understand that sworn officers are issued a command to participate in these prayers by removing their hats (“Officers, un-cover!”), then after the prayers another command is given to put their hats back on.
2) Graduation ceremonies include a religious reference in the mandatory recitation of the “Law Enforcement Code of Ethics”:
I will constantly strive to achieve these objectives and ideals, dedicating myself before God to my chosen profession, law enforcement.
3) The annual Police Recognition Ceremony and Luncheon includes a “National Police Prayer” that’s directed toward “Almighty God, Father of all mercies.”
4) The police chaplain, Father Daniel Brandt, says in a video on his official website that his goal is to convert everyone to Christianity.
“I look at my work as police chaplain as being pastor of the largest parish in the city of Chicago. I have the biggest flock, 12,000 or so, along with their families, and another 5,000 retirees.” In the same video, he states that his position is “a great way to bring Christ into the lives of others.”
In other words, Branch sees atheist, Muslim, Jewish, and other non-Christian officers as targets of proselytizing, not people who might need secular counseling. FFRF concludes that “the chaplain program, and thus the Chicago Police Department, endorses religion, and that Brandt uses this position to promote his personal religion to police officers, their families, and other members of the community.”
None of this is what a secular police department would be doing. There’s nothing wrong with giving Christian officers the resources they need to be effective cops, assuming they gave similar resources to non-Christian cops. But to treat Christianity like the default faith is simply an endorsement of religion.
FFRF is asking for assurances all of these problems will be resolved. If they’re not, the CPD could face a lawsuit.
This shouldn’t be difficult to resolve. It’s just a matter of treating all cops the same way they currently treat Christian ones. If they made mistakes, it’s not too late to fix them.
(Image via Shutterstock)