October 6, 2014 9:30 am -

Ellen Bogan of Huntington says Indiana State Police Trooper Brian Hamilton preached Christianity to her when he pulled her over for an alleged traffic violation in Union County in August.

Bogan says the trooper handed her a warning ticket, then he began to ask some personal questions.


[su_center_ad]Hamilton allegedly asked if she has a home church, then went on to ask, ‘Did she accept Jesus Christ as her savior?’

“It’s completely out of line and it just — it took me back,” 60-year-old Bogan told The Indianapolis Star.

Bogan and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court against Hamilton.

According to the lawsuit, the officer violated Bogan’s First and Fourth Amendment rights when he questioned her religious background and handed her a church pamphlet that asks the reader “to acknowledge that she is a sinner.”

“The most important thing for people to understand is that the First Amendment specifies that the government shall not prefer one religion over another religion, or religious adherence over anything else,”Jennifer Drobac, a professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis said.

“The police officer is representing the government … so that means, as a representative, this person, while on duty, while engaged in official action, is basically overstepping and is trying to establish religion.”

Bogan said Hamilton asked her about her faith multiple times during the traffic stop. She felt because he was a trooper and his police car was still parked behind hers, she could not leave or refuse questioning.

“The whole time, his lights were on,” Bogan said. “I had no reason to believe I could just pull away at that point, even though I had my warning.”

According to the complaint, Hamilton asked if he could give Bogan something and he went to his car to retrieve a pamphlet from First Baptist Church in Cambridge City.

The pamphlet advertises a radio broadcast from “Trooper Dan Jones” called “Policing for Jesus Ministries.” It also outlines “God’s plan for salvation,” a four-point list that advises the reader to “realize you’re a sinner” and “realize the Lord Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sins.”

“I’m not affiliated with any church. I don’t go to church,” Bogan said. “I felt compelled to say I did just because I had a state trooper standing at the passenger-side window. It was just weird,” she said.

When Bogan contacted the Indiana State Police afterward and requested a formal investigation, she was told later that the agency was “taking supervisory action.”

The Indy Star reports that Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana, said that even though the traffic stop might not have been the best time to question someone about faith, he wondered whether a police officer should lose his right to free speech because he is wearing a badge.

“I have people pass out religious material all the time. Mormons come to my door all the time, and it doesn’t offend me,” Clark said. “(This case) might not be the most persuasive time to talk to someone about their faith, but I don’t think that a police officer is prohibited from doing something like that.”

But Drobac said that while the officer has his own First Amendment rights, constitutional requirements that church and state be kept separate prevent him from sharing those beliefs on the job.

“I don’t think that’s appropriate,” Drobac said. “When you’re in your police blues, you do have the authority of the state. That’s why police officers wear uniforms — to indicate their authority and their position.”

Daniel O. Conkle, a law professor at Indiana University at Bloomington who studies law and religion, said the law becomes somewhat nebulous in instances like the radio program, which notes that Trooper Dan Jones is a trooper but his radio show is produced while he is off duty.

“You’re getting into a much fuzzier area,” Conkle said. “The question would be, for purposes of the establishment clause: ‘Is the speech of the police officer on the radio program effectively speech of the government?’ ”

“And sometimes, that can give rise to some pretty difficult questions and some pretty difficult line drawing,” he said.

While to some this lawsuit may not seem like an issue, imagine if the officer began preaching about Allah. The outrage would be deafening.

H/T: The incomparable @CarlaAkins with thanks. [su_csky_ad]

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

59 responses to Lawsuit: Cop Preaches Christianity During Traffic Stop, Hands Woman ‘Policing for Jesus Ministries’ Pamphlet

  1. William October 6th, 2014 at 9:35 am

    ,” a four-point list that advises the reader to “realize you’re a sinner”
    and to think I thought I was being cool and pro active by handing out seat belt pamphlets during my traffic stops.

    • arc99 October 6th, 2014 at 10:52 am

      as long as you did not suggest the driver pray to the seat belt, yes you were pretty cool.

      • Larry Schmitt October 6th, 2014 at 1:24 pm

        Probably get a better response praying to the seat belt. At least it’s real.

    • Bunya October 6th, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      I don’t think you went far enough. Not only should you have given them the pamphlet, but you should’ve threatened them with eternal damnation if they didn’t comply.

      • Jane Smith October 6th, 2014 at 9:21 pm

        I would have Baptized the Cop. Dunking him in water.. and holding him there until all the sins were washed away, which is signals by him not moving and thrashing around anymore while underwater. LOL

  2. crc3 October 6th, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Really?? Nothing wrong with being religious but a cop doing this at a traffic stop is just as bad as getting a knock at the door when a Jehovah’s Witness “pusher” tries to force feed you with a message and a pamphlet…

    • Ty Ellison October 6th, 2014 at 10:44 am

      Actually, the cop is worse than a Jehovah’s Witness, as the cop is operating under the authority as a cop (and the local government) while proselytizing.

      • crc3 October 6th, 2014 at 10:47 am

        True. Separation of church and state should apply here…

      • Glen October 6th, 2014 at 12:01 pm

        The real issue isn’t separation of church and state, it’s freedom from speech, the speech equivalent of freedom from religion – you have the right to speak as you wish, but you don’t have the right to force others to listen to it.

        • Dwendt44 October 6th, 2014 at 5:11 pm

          Freedom of speak doesn’t apply when you are on duty as a representative of government under color of law.
          Guns, tazers, billy clubs are a bit intimidating to most folks.

        • Jane Smith October 6th, 2014 at 9:13 pm

          As an Agent of the Governement, it is ILLEGAL. There is NO “grey area” in this Law. Once you are on Duty, you are NOT a Public Citizen anymore, and MUST Abide by State and Federal Laws which Prohibit this gross display of Occultism recruiting.

    • PernRider October 6th, 2014 at 7:22 pm

      It’s levels worse, actually. In the case of a JW at the door (or a Mormon, as the idiot in the article suggested), you have several options legally available to you: you can open the door and engage them; you can refuse to open the door at all; or you can close the door at any time during the encounter.

      In this case, she did not have any of those recourses legally available to her, which is why this is also a violation of her FOURTH Amendment rights. She was legally detained by this (armed!) officer, and had the justifiable fear that if she chose to end the encounter, or if she answered it in a way that he found objetionable, she could face legalistic retaliation by the officer, in the form of a greater ticket (“oh, you don’t go to church? Looks like you might have gone through that last stop light back there, too … “), or arrest for leaving.

    • jfinch October 7th, 2014 at 10:57 am

      Except the woman was legally detained.

      • crc3 October 7th, 2014 at 11:08 am

        Except the cop should have kept his fat mouth shut after addressing the violation…

        • jfinch October 7th, 2014 at 4:20 pm

          Seems like you are missing my point. The cop is proselytizing while legally detaining a woman, meaning the woman is not free to remove herself from the situation, making it a clear violation of the constitution. Jehovah witnesses knock on your door and you can simply shut the door in their face.

  3. William October 6th, 2014 at 9:42 am

    So how an I doing?
    Good job out there today, take the rest of the night off. See you in the squad room for roll call tomorrow.

  4. granpa.usthai October 6th, 2014 at 9:50 am

    off duty radio program that allows the listener the choice of listening, not funded by tax dollars (except for the TAX EXEMPTION allowed religion) is OK. Mormons/Jehovah Witnesses/others coming to your door with flashing lights and siren is OK. (you have the legal option of telling them to F-off). I’ve found the best way to end a ‘American Christian’ (churchgoers for $$$) is to politely with a nice friendly smile to ask them two questions in return.
    1. Why are their no sh*tters in heaven?
    2. Do you really want forever and forever constipation?

  5. granpa.usthai October 6th, 2014 at 9:58 am

    well, thinking about this for a bit, maybe a dashboard statue of Satan with a Canadian Exaggeration wouldn’t be exactly appropriate, ‘specially if youngsters were in the vehicle?

    “have you really digested the thoughts of maybe hell ain’t that bad when compared to a ‘heaven’ with no sh*tters?” – not many other options available in the hereafter.

  6. Angelo_Frank October 6th, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Another adherent of Christian Dominionism doing his duty. Don’t worry, it will just get worse.

    • axollot October 6th, 2014 at 12:07 pm

      That’s just it. Christian Dominionism. People need to wake up because it is going to get much, much worse. And we’re not talking proselytizing

      • Jane Smith October 6th, 2014 at 9:11 pm

        So true! Its almost scary how bad they are getting.. just as bad as Religious Terrorist, even with a little Murder involved, meaning present day American Witch Hunts, which I know for a fact still exist, my friends daughter in Middle School was threatened with her life if she didnt convert, and school did nothing. They moved out of State ans Sued the pants off the Govt there.

  7. uzza October 6th, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Got to keep up with Syria. ISIS does “Policing for Mohammed” and he does “Policing for Jesus”.

  8. Um Cara October 6th, 2014 at 10:31 am

    “I have people pass out religious material all the time. Mormons come to my door all the time, and it doesn’t offend me,”

    Big difference between door to door Jesus salesmen knocking on your door and an armed proselytizer holding you captive.

  9. craig7120 October 6th, 2014 at 10:51 am

    I would of totally handled this confrontation differently. My dinosaur eating a Jesus fish plaque on my jeep would helped me establish my views, I would of thanked the officer for the break and pretend to be interested in his motives and then asked for a brochure on his church. As long as he doesn’t check church attendance records my brilliant plan of escaping traffic tickets would be fool proof accept for one thing, I don’t speed.
    I’m a thinker

    • Origami_Isopod October 6th, 2014 at 12:22 pm

      Let me guess. You’re white and you don’t have to worry about the cop going all Darren Wilson on your butt.

      • craig7120 October 6th, 2014 at 1:04 pm

        Yep, fish belly white
        You’re comparing what happened in Ferguson, Mo. to this encounter?
        Lemme guess, you’re stoopid?

    • Matt Stewart October 6th, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      Would have* or would’ve*, except* for one thing.

      From the article, I get the impression that’s pretty much what this lady did.

      • craig7120 October 7th, 2014 at 9:48 am

        LOL @ you
        If you’re gonna correct my post at the very least you should leave a grade.
        Mental note to self, not to take Mr Stewart’s class next semester.

  10. Bunya October 6th, 2014 at 11:01 am

    “Did she accept Jesus Christ as her savior?”
    Uh, which answer will get me out of a ticket?

    I cringe to think what the cop would do if he pulled over a Jew or a Muslim dressed in their full religious garb.
    Guess it’s time to dust off the ol’ dashboard plastic Jesus and rear view mirror rosary.

    • Larry Schmitt October 6th, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      Rosary’s no good. He’s a fundy, the rosary is papist, as bad as a pagan or a Muslim to the fundies.

      • Dwendt44 October 6th, 2014 at 5:08 pm

        Yup. Many radical right religious types don’t think Catholics are ‘real’ christians’ . Once they’ve eliminated or converted all the non christians, they’ll start converting Catholics into REAL christians.
        I didn’t say that is was at all realistic, but that’s what they think.

        • Larry Schmitt October 6th, 2014 at 5:29 pm

          And when I was growing up catholic, we were taught that no one else was going to heaven. Including other christians.

        • PernRider October 6th, 2014 at 6:48 pm

          I’m Pagan, have been since I was a tween and renounced Christianity. My brother is a recently converted fundie (and a Teathuglican to boot, but don’t those go hand-in-hand?!) He and his wife have come at me more than once in the past few months over religion, and he has thrown verses and citations at me (she’s just thrown insults, et al, and lucky me, she defriended me on FB). After accusing me of being anti-Christian, I pointed out that I’m just anti-hypocrisy, and anti-in-your-face-convert-or-else; I said that I have taken my kids to church repeatedly, including attending Mass every Christmas Eve and Easter with my Catholic in-laws and Catholic daughter. My brother almost flipped, because how could I expose my kids to THAT and claim to be open-minded to Christianity, and I needed to pick a different church if I was going to be taking them, etc. He then kindly sent me a list of the “right” kind of churches in my area that I could check out …

          Yeah. I don’t talk to my brother a whole lot …

          • Bunya October 6th, 2014 at 7:24 pm

            I feel for ya bro. My aunt became a born again Christian a few years back. It was unbearable at family gatherings. We couldn’t have any type of conversation without her turning it into a religious sermon.

            Me: “Hey Joe. How do you like your new house”
            Joe: “Great! I’m gonna remodel the basement”
            Aunt Barb: “See how Jesus has blessed you with this wonderful gift? Let us all hold hands and thank Jesus for Joe’s good fortune”.

            Lucky for me (and unlucky for the people living in Tampa Bay), she moved to Florida and doesn’t like to travel north in cold weather, so we always invite her for Christmas.

          • Dwendt44 October 6th, 2014 at 7:48 pm

            There’s the Unitarian/Universalist church. That’s sort of christian extra light. And Humanist groups all over the country. Pagans will fit in there.

          • mea_mark October 6th, 2014 at 8:40 pm

            I am kinda a Pantheistic Pagan Rosicrucian cross mix up so really anything goes if your thinking and not just accepting dogma. Church is wherever you are when you are the I Am, I Am. ¿∞?

          • Jane Smith October 6th, 2014 at 9:08 pm

            Merry Meet. I am Egyptian based Pagan, House of Isis with Wicca Mix.

          • Jane Smith October 6th, 2014 at 9:05 pm

            you are almost the same as me. Minus the kids. My Adoptive Family are all like that.. real southern redneck Unintelligent Fundies. Just being around them makes my Head hurt from the massive amount of stupidity.

  11. Jim Floyd October 6th, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Let the Be-headings begin.

  12. grammy97 October 6th, 2014 at 11:39 am

    What’s the difference between a man with a gun, and a man with a sword? -0-

    • Glen October 6th, 2014 at 11:56 am

      The ability to kill from a distance?

      • Larry Schmitt October 6th, 2014 at 1:52 pm

        Learn how to throw.

  13. Glen October 6th, 2014 at 11:56 am

    “I have people pass out religious material all the time. Mormons come to my door all the time, and it doesn’t offend me,” Clark said. “(This case) might not be the most persuasive time to talk to someone about their faith, but I don’t think that a police officer is prohibited from doing something like that.”

    Somebody should point out to this guy that a person isn’t allowed to just pull away from a policeman, and that freedom of speech doesn’t mean that you can force others to listen. The issue here isn’t so much the “speaking for the government” angle, but the “using government-given powers to force the person to listen” angle. If the guy doesn’t understand, then perhaps demonstrate by tying the guy to a chair, lecturing him about freedom from religion, and when he complains about being held against his will and being forced to listen, point out the equivalence.

    • Skydog2 October 6th, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      While he’s wearing his uniform he’s speaking for the Govt.

    • Jane Smith October 6th, 2014 at 9:02 pm

      When he is on Duty, he is an Agent of the Government. There is no such thing as as a “Grey Area” when it comes to an On Duty Government Worker.

      Its Federal Law.

  14. tiredoftea October 6th, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Religious proselytizing at the end of a gun. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, wait, we’ve already seen this movie, and it doesn’t end well.

  15. fancypants October 6th, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    While to some this lawsuit may not seem like an issue, imagine if the officer began preaching about Allah. The outrage would be deafening.

    He wears a uniform with an American flag on the sleeve then preaches about allah ?
    Now that’s a traffic stop I want to experience !

    • Larry Schmitt October 6th, 2014 at 2:01 pm

      Fox wouldn’t be able to shut up about it.

    • Larry Schmitt October 6th, 2014 at 5:33 pm

      This story isn’t on fox, I just looked.

  16. Budda October 6th, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    The officer was way off base with this. If he wasn’t in uniform, flashing lights, handing out a warning summons etc. I’d be tempted to tell him him to shove his bible-thumping up his ..

    Sue his butt back into the stone age where he belongs.

  17. Ignatius Myosurus October 6th, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    It’s obviously completely inappropriate. if it was me though, all I would want would be for the man’s superiors to tell him “That’s unacceptable. Don’t do it again.” The behavior of a single employee does not necessarily reflect something systemic in the whole department. So I would probably not bother with a lawsuit, unless I thought it was officially condoned.

    • whatthe46 October 6th, 2014 at 8:51 pm


  18. Willie Wilson Jr October 6th, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    That officer was wrong. State and religion are separate

    • Dwendt44 October 6th, 2014 at 5:05 pm

      Wellllll they are supposed to be, but there are those right wing nut jobs that are working to make this a theocracy.

  19. Bode Gibbs October 6th, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    There is nothing fuzzy about it. Using a uniform to enforce belief in a religion is fascism.

  20. Andrew W. Challand October 6th, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Well, at least he didn’t beat her up, threaten to shoot her. She should consider herself lucky.

  21. Jane Smith October 6th, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    As an On Duty Police Officer, you are no longer a Citizen, you are an Agent of the Government, and MUST Abide by Govt Laws associated with that position. I am SICK of getting religion FORCED down my throat in the United States by christians!

    They are the biggest bunch of Hypocrites there are, saying this crap is good, while Whining like a delivery room nursery full of newborns that non-christians are “Violating their Freedom of religion” Sorry Crazy People, Religion is a private issue, and Proselytizing is nothing but recruitment into the Cults you are members of. MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS AND LEAVE ME ALONE!

  22. jfinch October 7th, 2014 at 10:54 am

    When you are off duty you can creep on people all you want. Only when off duty.

  23. AndyMatts October 7th, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    Restrictions on professional conduct are not “losing free speech rights.” I can’t do stuff that’s not work-related on my employer’s dime. He’s free to preach to whomever he wants as a private citizen, off-duty.