If you’ve ever been pulled over for speeding by a state trooper, you know the experience is never fun. You want it to go as smoothly, and as quickly, as possible. License, registration, nodding respectfully, ticket, have a nice day, you drive off, trooper drives off, done.
In Indiana, if you’re pulled over by Trooper Brian Hamilton, you might get a side of Jesus with your speeding ticket. Trooper Hamilton is being sued-for the second time-for “witnessing” to a motorist during a traffic stop. From Fox 59:
The lawsuit alleges Trooper Brian Hamilton of the ISP Pendleton post pulled the woman over for speeding and gave her a warning. He then asked her what church she went to and if she was saved. Documents said Hamilton invited [Wendy] Pyle to his church and even gave directions.
The complaint alleges Pyle answered “yes” to both questions because she was uncomfortable and wanted to end the stop.
Brian Hamilton is a state employee, whose job it is to monitor Indiana highways, stop speeders, help deter crime, and make the roads safer. His job is not to preach while on duty, being paid with Indiana tax dollars. We have this odd thing called “separation of church and state,” and I’m pretty sure a state employee, witnessing to others while on the clock, is a direct violation of that separation. Hamilton also put Wendy Pyle on a prayer list:
According to the complaint, Pyle filed a formal complaint after the stop with Indiana State Police and was told she’d suffer no backlash. But someone who attends the trooper’s church later came up to her and told her the trooper had her put on a prayer list.
Because filing a complaint after a state trooper witnesses to you during a traffic stop obviously means you need prayers.
On the other side of the theocracy coin, Idaho governor Butch Otter (yes, that’s his real name) vetoed legislation that would have expressly permitted the use of the Bible in public schools. From KBOI:
Idaho Gov. C. L. “Butch” Otter vetoed legislation Tuesday that would have expressly permitted the use of the Bible in public school instruction, calling the measure unconstitutional.
“I have deep respect and appreciation for the Bible as religious doctrine as well as a piece of historic literature,” Otter wrote in a letter accompanying the veto. “However, allowing S1342 to become law is a direct contravention to the Idaho Constitution and it could result for the loss of funding and costly litigation for Idaho public schools.”
Direct contravention to the state constitution. He’s right. You cannot use public funds to preach any religion, which is one of the many things that make the United States such a wonderful country. You can worship whatever you want-God, Buddha, Mohammed, Thor, Pan, trees, a Volkswagen, your cat-but you cannot use tax dollars to promote your beliefs. Something many conservatives, and Trooper Brian Hamilton, do not seem to understand.
Kudos to Governor Butch Otter for understanding the separation of church and state. Glares and growls to Trooper Brian Hamilton for getting sued in 2014, settling that suit, and going back out and engaging in the same unconstitutional behavior again. Makes you wonder why he still has a job, doesn’t it?