MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The city of Montgomery, Ala., is hoping religion can help combat crime.
The Atlantic reports the Montgomery Police Department has launched Operation Good Shepherd. It's a publicly funded Christian outreach ministry that puts Christian pastors on crime scenes to counsel and pray with victims and witnesses.
Police say it's a way not only to regain community trust but to spread Christianity. Organizers believe a stronger sense of Christianity will reduce crime, according to the Atlantic.
Homicide statistics show Montgomery is among the most violent cities per capita in the country, with 39 murders so far this year. The city also faces high unemployment and a weak economy.
I truly believe there has been a breakdown in the family. We have young people not being guided.
–Police Chief Kevin Murphy
"What we're seeing today, those seeds were sown a long time ago.," Montgomery Police Chief Kevin Murphy was quoted as saying. "I truly believe there has been a breakdown in the family. We have young people not being guided."
Last month, 37 trained pastors graduated from the program.
Since the "outreach ministry" is entirely funded by taxpayers, the Atlantic raises the question of whether it is legal from a Constitutional perspective.
It also points out there is no evidence a program like this can have any effect on crime.