Pastors as crime fighters?
Yes, and why not? But they're not going to arm themselves and start shooting. No, that's definitely not what District Attorney Michael Jackson of Dallas County, Alabama had in mind.
Meeting pastors from churches in Selma recently, Jackson unveiled a novel program to combat crime and violence in the county involving faith leaders, WSFA reported.
Calling the pastors the "backbone of the community," Jackson urged them to do something bold and daring: adopt local gang members in their churches and help "develop a conscience for some of these young folks."
He said the pastors could give the people they adopt some duties in the church like being part of the choir or involving them in church sport activities, supporting and encouraging them along the way.
Jackson believes this is the best way to reach out to people before they resort to criminality.
He said the objective is "to make them feel positive about themselves."
"We don't want them killing people, robbing people and they don't even blink an eye," Jackson said.
The pastors lauded Jackson's idea and pledged to commit themselves to the program.
"I think it will help. I think there's more dialogue that needs to be done concerning it, but I think it's a great idea," said John Grayson, pastor of Gospel Tabernacle Church on Summerfield Road in Selma.
Earlier this month, pastors were also asked to join the anti-crime drive in Louisville, Kentucky by Gov. Matt Bevin, who urged them to form walking prayer groups in the city's high-crime areas, the Christian News Network reported.
"I personally believe in the power of prayer. I've seen it," Bevin, a Southern Baptist, told a gathering of pastors and residents of the city.
He suggested that pastors and members of their congregations join together for one year to walk a block every week, praying as they go and reaching out to the residents.
"You walk to a corner, pray for the people, talk to people along the way," he said.
Bevin's "prayer patrols" idea drew mixed response. Some community leaders welcomed his suggestion, but others mocked him for wishing to "pray away" the city's peace and order problem, The Christian Post reported.