Alabama senate votes to let church form its own police force

Briarwood Presbyterian, right as a symbol of state power accidentally blew into the shot

When we think about the separation of church and state, we tend to worry about government becoming more like church. But maybe the real danger lies in churches becoming more like governments—by getting a piece of the state’s monopoly on violence, for instance. Yesterday, the Alabama state senate approved a bill to let Briarwood Presbyterian Church assemble its own police force. Briarwood police would be sworn officers with the same authority to carry firearms, issue citations and place people under arrest as, for example, university police. The difference is that they would be employed by a church. That’s tricky, since as police they would become expressions of state power. I’m using “tricky” here to avoid repeating the exact words of the ACLU of Alabama, whose executive director described the plan as “plainly unconstitutional.”

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There sure are a lot of black people in this video


Monster metal props to Ben Gabriel for the link. For my money, this sort of video is where the mash-up culture of the internet most closely approaches art. You’ve got your juxtaposition of disparate elements—Slayer’s “Angel of Death” and footage from a bunch of Pentecostal churches where, presumably, they would not like Slayer—that evokes how sparate those elements really are. This sudden recognition of congruence is called beauty, or maybe just humor. I think this video is funny. The kid who goes hopping across the shot at :48—maybe not with total sincerity—is funny. The open headbanging at 2:25 is funny. The inadvertent lip synch at 2:53 is funny. And as skeptical and probably anti-religious as the tone is, it’s also a celebration of raw human energy, which is funny. My praise of this video would be unqualified, were I not so relieved every time a white person appeared onscreen.

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Friday links! Spades are spades edition

I think this picture is what's been missing from our increasingly tedious Friday visual puns, if you know what I mean.

It’s the end of the week, and TGIFF, you B’s. Maybe it’s just the unseasonably warm weather here in Montana, but I can’t help but feel that a veil is falling away. Ours is an impressively euphemistic society, where bitter spite goes dressed in the robes of parliamentary procedure and cold depredation smiles warmly from the podium. Unlike a lie, though, the truth is there whether you’re talking about it or not, and like the gay director of your church camp, it will eventually out itself. This week was a surprisingly good one for calling things by their right names, to the point that even our usually gloomy Friday links have taken on the rosy glow of…god, I can’t think of the word. What’s that thing that’s the opposite of despair? You know, the thing that rich charlatans laugh at? I know it’s a political strategy of some sort, but I feel like it has an archaic definition, too. Ah, well—I’m sure I’ll think of it, and if I never do I’ll still have consumer electronics. In the meantime, enjoy this week’s link roundup, in which a mighty herd of telling it like it is goes sweeping across the nation, paradoxically leaving a little less bullshit in its wake.

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