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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Christians Try to Use Policemen to Proselytise

The NSS has protested to the Metropolitan Police about a Christian group’s attempts to use police officers to distribute proselytising material.

The Metropolitan Police said it wanted to consult other “faith groups” before it decided to distribute a comic entitled Cops and Robbers, produced by the Christian Police Association (CPA). The comic features “Jesus-saved-me-from-a-life-of-crime” type stories from criminals who are described as having “opened up to the Christian faith”.

“It is essential that we respond effectively to the needs of all faith groups and that the potential impact of any initiative is carefully considered,” a Metropolitan Police statement said.

Commander Alf Hitchcock, of the Metropolitan Police, said he welcomed the: “involvement of the Christian Police Association - the Cops and Robbers publication is an innovative and positive concept. However, it is important that effective consultation takes place, in relation to the material, and that the needs of other faith groups are also considered as part of the ongoing work being undertaken by the Custody Directorate.”

But the National Secular Society has protested that the police have no business evangelising on behalf of any particular religion. NSS Executive Director, Keith Porteous Wood, said: “London is a hugely multi-cultural city, its residents probably cover the whole religious spectrum. Consequently, its police force is there to serve everyone, and not to be used as a proselytising tool by one particular religion. The police force must remain a secular body that doesn’t show favour to any section of the community. It must not involve itself at an official level in these sectarian religious activities. Nor should the police forget that the majority of young people do not consider themselves to belong to any religion.”

The NSS has written to Commander Hitchcock calling on him to keep the police service free from institutional involvement in religion of any kind.

“Once the police start down the road of religious favouritism, conflict will surely follow,” said Mr Wood.

“What happens when the Moonies or the Scientologists ask to have their material distributed by the police? How can they say no to one when they’ve said yes to another? The answer is to declare that the police authority is a secular body that does not involve itself in religious activities at an institutional level.”


Published Thu, 05 Jan 2006