Sorry Officer, You Have a Duty to Protect and Serve, Not Proselytize

Imagine a police officer refusing to guard a Sikh temple, give a presentation on safety and crime prevention at a Catholic elementary school, conduct foot patrols in a neighborhood with a large Orthodox Jewish population, or come to the aid of an injured woman wearing a hijab.

As crazy as they may sound, these scenarios are not that far-fetched, given an Oklahoma police officer's recent refusal to serve community members with different religious beliefs.

In 2011, the Islamic Society of Tulsa organized a Law Enforcement Appreciation Day to show its gratitude for protection provided after threats to its mosque. As part of its longstanding community-policing initiative, the Tulsa Police Department requested some of its officers to attend, as they had for hundreds of other outreach events hosted by various religious organizations over the years.

One officer – Captain Paul Fields – refused, however, claiming his attendance would pose a "moral dilemma." Even when in uniform, Fields argued, he had a "duty to proselytize" anyone who doesn't share his Christian beliefs. Despite his supervisors' assurances that no one at the event would be required to participate in any religious observations or express or adopt any beliefs, and despite their offers that he send a subordinate in his place, Fields wouldn't follow orders.

In a unanimous decision yesterday, a federal appellate court rightly found Captain Fields's claims to have no merit, agreeing with the Tulsa Police Department and the ACLU. Though certainly entitled to his own deeply held beliefs, as a police officer, Captain Fields is bound to serve all members of the community, regardless of their faith.

Learn more about policing and other civil liberty issues: Sign up for breaking news alertsfollow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

View comments (12)
Read the Terms of Use

Anonymous

I'm a Christian, and I had to look UP the word proselytize, which has always been called EVANGElize in MY church, and you can do that just by saying you believe in Jesus. Although, nobody in my OWN profession gives a good goddam what I believe, which they made obvious when they thought I was being all insensitive about Jehovas Witnesses who stand around and watch their loved ones die from lack of blood when God has clearly presented them with people who CAN save the life of their loved one but they just refuse to do it. It might as well damn-near be murder 1 to do that when almost everyone understands that 99.9% of the time someone who's lost great amounts of blood and plasma is NOT going to live without the aid of additional blood.
I've read the same damn passage they're referring to in the Bible, bc our pastor wanted us to know how they've taken it so damn literally that they don't even think they should help save their own lives, but I couldn't find any way He was condemning you if you accept blood due to a life-saving procedure which, INCIDENTALLY didn't even freakin' EXIST when that verse was penned so how the hell He could have meant during this particular life-saving procedure I'll NEVer understand. And certainly will never agree with it because I think he was talking about the procedures of the era it was penned in, which anybody who works in Emergency Medicine is positive beyond doubt that no procedures for reversing hypovolemic shock existed then. Knowledge of bacteria didn't even exist then.
I honestly believe they're an accomplice to the person's wrongful death when they do that but nobody gave a rat's patootie what I thought OR believed. I had to treat these people just as if I loved them as much as I do anyone else who wants to help themselves.
That's what I do but I hate it. I hate people placing a particular belief above the continued life of another human being, because it's stupid. It makes you look like you crawled out of the primordial ooze just yesterday. And if you want to watch them die you can take them home and do that, because honestly there's nothing we can do when someone's in hypovolemic shock but refuses the only treatment available that reverses the condition.
We had to call an emergency meeting with a judge just to give blood to a minor, whose mother was Jehovas Witness and refused to allow her 13 y.o son, who lost more than a third of his blood volume, a transfusion.
The judge ruled in the boy's favor even though he also recognized the right for the mother to have her religious views. But it took way longer than it should and he could have died while they were discussing it.
I find those types of religious practices repulsive and repugnant as well as detrimental to the future health of the patient. I take my job as seriously as they take their religion and my job is to save a life when I can and make comfortable those that can't be saved.

Anonymous

Anybody ever notice how it is that the only religion that the Aclu will attack is Christianity while protecting minority religions?

Satan sure does have control of the radical left.

Anonymous

the ACLU is clearly not an organization that is interested in defending human rights. what and odious and biased article this is. I will no long be supporting the ACLU.

Anonymous

Fire the bigot!

Errando

In the same way, shouldn't doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc. be found liable of breaking the law for denying contraceptive and abortion services because these are in contrast with their religious or moral beliefs??
When will a principle be adopted that when somebody is choosing freely to
perform public duties, he/she is bound to serve everybody regardless of his/her religious/moral belief?? Our duties and responsibilities are not depending solely on what we believe; if we choose a public profession, can we perform to the best of our ability with parts of the public, and simply refuse to serve other parts??

Anonymous

Good. These people insist on creating a hierarchy of rights in this country, with religion placed at the very top.

Anonymous

Men like this don't deserve to wear badges.

Lance Kerr

While I sort of agree with the comment, that as a Police Officer he should attend, but If he does attend he should Not have to remove Shoes, Guns or headdress under any circumstance. If he does then he ceases to be a Police Officer and then he has the right to leave.

I cant believe that anyone should be forced to attend something that they feel so strongly about. Are Muslim Police Officers required to attend Christian churches. I bet Not.

Anonymous

@Lance Kerr: He's not being forced to attend a religious service or ceremony. He's being told to attend a "Thank you for looking out for us" thing that happens to be organized by a mosque that they protected while it was being threatened. If it were any other religion or organization- even his OWN church- it would still be just as irrelevant.

These people want to say "Thanks for looking out for us." He doesn't want to go because they're Muslims.

Anonymous

He's paid for by taxes we all pay to do a job within the whole community if he feels he can't fulfil that role he should go do something else. Muppet

Pages

Stay Informed