Get the latest BPR news delivered free to your inbox daily. SIGN UP HERE.
The congregation of a Tennessee church has made it clear where they stand on the issue of defunding police departments.
The Lighthouse Missionary Baptist Church in Jonesborough made a “bold statement” on the issue of supporting local law enforcement by donating $1,000 to each member of the town’s police department.
“Our church stands for truth, we stand for righteousness, we stand for freedom and liberty, we stand for justice, we stand for the sanctity of human life, we stand for godliness and for law and order,” Pastor Perry Cleek said in a statement during a ceremony on July 4. “But in order to stand for these things, it is necessary to stand against some things. And now is the proper time to take such a stand.”
A total of $23,000 was collected in a gesture of appreciation, with $1,000 given to every member of the Jonesborough Police Department in a ceremony on Independence Day held on the steps of the Jonesborough courthouse, according to the church website.
“We have heard the news reports of entire police departments suffering from a debilitating lack of morale,” Cleek told The Christian Post.
“In many places in America, local governments are signaling their support for those who are attacking law enforcement by defunding their local police,” he added.
“We wanted to make a bold statement in support of law enforcement. Our desire was for our action to send a symbolic message of our support to the Jonesborough Police, but to also show our support in a very practical way by recognizing and supporting each individual employee,” Cleek said.
Jonesborough Chief Ron Street and Public Safety Director Craig Ford joined a few hundred people described by Cleek as “very supportive” at the Saturday event.
“We recognize that we do not speak for anyone but our local church. We have not issued an appeal for other churches to follow our example,” Cleek said.
“However, we believe that millions of Americans feel exactly the same way we do about the treatment of law enforcement in our country, but do not feel they have a voice,” he added. “The voices of those blaming and condemning law enforcement for much that is wrong in our country are very loud. We wanted our voice in support of law enforcement to be loud and bold.”
In an official statement from the church, the pastor said it was “past time for the silent majority of Americans” to stand up and be heard on the condemnation of “lawlessness and anarchy in the streets” as well as “any movement that calls for the murder of police officers.”
During remarks at the event on Saturday, the pastor of the Washington County church noted the members were there “to express our outrage at the evil that has manifested itself in our land. And to cleave to that which is good, which is 99% of law our law enforcement personnel.”
“If reform is what is needed to dismiss a bad cop, then by all means, we call for reform. But to burn down the whole system is to invite lawlessness to sweep over this country like a COVID virus,” he added, after calling out “the destruction of private property, stealing and looting as though all laws have been suspended for your cause.”
“Call it what it is, evil,” Cleek said.
He condemned the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis which sparked weeks of civil unrest and protests across the nation, telling The Christian Post that it was “without question an act of evil” and called for “the ones guilty to face the full justice of the law.”
But he noted that the violence and rioting that followed were also “acts of evil.”
“Our response to the evil all around is to do something good, something we feel is very good,” he said. “Our act of support and encouragement for our local police department will, we believe, result in many more American citizens voicing their support.”