An Indiana police officer brought a motorist to tears when he offered to pray with the speeding driver instead of issuing him a ticket.
Indiana State Police Sgt. Todd Durnil pulled over Rodney Gibson in Bloomington on Monday along a local highway.
Durnil, a Christian, told ABC News that he noticed Gibson seemed "agitated" after he pulled him over. Gibson then reportedly told the police officer that he had been distracted while driving because he recently found out that his daughter's breast cancer had reached a more intense stage and that he didn't believe she would survive it.
The police officer said he thought "this man already has enough, I'm not going to write him any paperwork for a ticket or even a warning."
"When I walked back to his truck, I explained everything. He still seemed agitated, but not as bad, and he apologized, saying, 'I'm sorry, I usually don't act this way, I've just been going through a lot,'" Durnil added.
Durnil explaind that when he returned to Gibson's vehicle, he planned to ask if they could say a prayer together. Upon his return, Gibson was the one to ask him to pray.
"He reached for my hand, and this man sent up a prayer, for my daughter and for my family, that sent chills all over my body," Gibson told the Herald-Times on Wednesday. "I will never, ever forget this, nor will my family."
"I know there have been a lot of negative things said about police officers and law enforcement, and I want people to know what this officer did for me," Gibson continued. "He helped get me down the road, because I had so much on my mind and was having a pretty rough day."
Although many have spoken out on the benefit of praying with and for local law enforcement in the U.S., some atheist groups have condemned such acts as being a violation of the separation of church and state.
This past December, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Johnson City, Tennessee, encouraging its local police department to end its "Adopt a Cop" initiative that encourages local communities to pray for law enforcement.
"It is not appropriate for the [Johnson City Police Department] to do so through a religious program that is not actually providing any protection for your officers, but only wishing for it in the form of Christian prayers," FFRF staff attorney Andrew Seidel wrote in the letter.
"JCPD should focus on programs that actually make a difference in police officers' lives rather than expending any department resources for ineffectual Christian programming," Seidel added.