In my city, Montgomery, AL, there are a handful of the largest churches that have police directing traffic after their services are over. I've been through these areas enough during these times to know that this does not benefit anyone but the church itself and its members. It only serves to hinder those not associated with the church who are just trying to get to where they are going.

As a particular example, the largest church in the city, a Methodist church, has so many members that most of them have to park across the highway, one of the busiest in the city, in a shopping center parking lot. When this church service releases, the police will stop traffic to let these people across the highway. There are two traffic lights and crosswalks at this location already, but they will further stop traffic to not only let people across the street, but to let the church members out of the parking lots on and back onto the highway. It can frequently take 10 or 15 minutes to get past the church if you slip up and go down that road at the wrong time. In my mind, if they want to go to this church, let use the two traffic lights. They've made the choice to go there and they should have to deal with what they are given.

This is, in my opinion, a gross misappropriation of police work, seeing as how the churches do not pay taxes, and do nothing whatsoever to pay for the preferential police coverage they are getting. Anyone else see things like this? Anyone else agree or disagree?

Tags: church, misuse, police

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they will further stop traffic to not only let people across the street, but to let the church members out of the parking lots on and back onto the highway

This sounds like preference, but it's probably just the police trying to clear up the clusterf*ck as quickly as possible to get traffic moving again. If they didn't do that, it would only last longer. Cops are likely just doing their jobs. That said, however, the city needs to be pressing the churches to equip themselves with a better system. If they have so damn many people, they should be able to accomodate the parking and design it in such a way as to interrupt the flow of surrounding traffic as little as possible (and if they have that many people, they shouyld have no trouble raising the funds to do it). You're right, their inability--or maybe they just can't be bothered because they assume the city will take care of it--to do so is a burden on the city. You should circulate a petition and present it to the proper authorities--and remember, don't mention your particular state of faithlessness--this is an annoyance that affects everyone. :)
I saw this in Louisville, KY at a mega church that was on the way to Sam's Club. Also here in Coral Springs, FL - coincidentally also on the way to Sam's Club :)

It infuriated me that cops were stopping traffic on a major north-south route so these people wouldn't have to walk an extra 75 feet or so to a crosswalk.

I don't know if the churches are paying extra for this service or not - I certainly hope so. But, if that were the case, what official reason would they have for stopping traffic in a non-emergency situation if they weren't on official business?
Jeremy,

Several churches in the Memphis area do the same thing. Even though they pay no taxes they do have to pay the policemen they use.
This has been going on in the Jackson, MS area for as long as I have been here, which is since 1977. I assume it is pretty common in the south, and I would even assume outside of the south.

I know which areas to avoid and so have no problems. I suspect if anyone sued they would probably lose, until it reached the Supreme Court, then it would be anyone's guess. I suspect it is an unconstitutional situation, but who knows.

BTW, about a fourth of the official voting precincts around this area are churches - mine is a methodist church. I can't see how such is constitutional but until someone challenges it we will never know.
Happens in San Antonio, too. The methodist church down the street from me is so well-attended that they take up their puny parking lot, and the closest lots to the church on the three corners opposite it. They also use the lot of the elementary school next door. And the lot of the high school next door to the elementary. They provide a SHUTTLE service from the high school! I am not kidding.

Recently, however, they tore up one of their parking lots to build a "youth center" (after tearing up a rather spacious lot to "expand" the original church). The construction tie-ups were painful; worse, the crew working on it hit a main phone line artery, knocking us all out of phone service for a while, spotty phone service for weeks after that--and static-drenched service for MONTHS after that! Were any of us compensated? Nope. Would any lawyer take a case against them? I think not.

The only "good" thing to come of the construction was that they built a skywalk over the main road between the youth center and the church. No more cops directing traffic! Hooray!
I actually disagree with the initial post, let me tell you why;

Well first of all, as you said the church has so many members that many of them need to park on the other side of the highway, sounds kind of dangerous, crossing a highway to get back to your car amongst hundreds of people, what about the poor motorists on the highway trying to slow down because of the sudden people crossing the highway? I am not entirely sold ont he idea that the police are there to "hinder" those not associated with the church, the police are simply there to make sure the elderly etc do not get smashed by a semi truck, crossing the highway because they happen to go to a church which happens to have a small parking lot, or not enough spaces. I would suggest they build a bigger parking lot, but hey, as you put it, they don't pay taxes, let their lives be endangered. This is not "misappropriation" of police time and effort, it is making sure people get home safely, the same goes for "preferential police coverage".

That is what I think, given your original post.
Cops do this here too, for churches and for occassional civic events like bike races that have to cross a somewhat busy road. It's a shame they aren't paying taxes to support police (the institution isn't, the individuals probably are) but I was in a car accident where a pedestrian was killed. It was pretty horrific. I'd rather wait in traffic a couple extra minutes.

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