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Bill pushing armed security forces at churches suffers setback

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

Apparently, Alabama churches are boiling over with potential violence.

At the Alabama House Judiciary Committee meeting on Wednesday, Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, proposed legislation to protect church-goers from that violence – a bill that would authorize armed church security forces to receive firearms training by police departments or sheriffs.

“Oh, you’d be surprised,” Greer said of potential violence within Alabama’s churches following the meeting. Committee chairman Mike Jones elected to hold Greer’s bill over so Greer would have time to make changes and get support from law enforcement associations.

“There are all sorts of problems in communities that spill over into churches and they have to deal with them,” Greer said. “I could list off a bunch of them for you that people have come to me about. Lots of things, from community issues to domestic situations. It happens.”

Committee members had a number of questions for Greer, and they spent several minutes picking apart the details of his bill.

Most troubling for many of the members, it seemed, was that Greer’s bill didn’t actually provide additional protections for churches that hire armed security forces and they had an issue with his broad definition of a church. Greer’s bill defined at as a “bona fide duly religious society or ecclesiastical body.”

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That definition was the subject of much debate, with Rep. Paul Beckman asking, “Is it possible we have some wacko churches out there?”

Ultimately, Greer said it was a lack of immunity for the security force in his bill – which was actually a substitute of the original bill, which contained the immunity language – that prevented his bill from moving forward.

“I think they want that language in there, and then we’ll see what happens,” he said.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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