Denver Police Department shelves plan to distribute Bibles

gideonbible205.jpg
The Denver Police Department was prepared to throw the book at scofflaws -- the good book. On September 6, an e-mail went out from Mary Beth Klee, the DPD's deputy chief of administration, that Chief David Quinones had okayed the delivery of "a box of Bibles to each of the six district stations and the HQ Information Desk." Those Bibles were coming from the Gideons, in Denver to distribute Bibles not just to the usual hotels and motels, but police, sheriff and fire departments.

"They have obtained a letter of permission from the Denver city attorney's office to make the distribution," a DPD captain had assured Klee.

But had they? A little investigation seemed in order -- if not by the DPD, then by us.

mary.beth.klee.jpg
Mary Beth Klee.
Here's the e-mail string:
From: Klee, Mary Beth -- DPD
Sent: Friday, September 06, 2013 11:07 AM
Subject: FW: Bible Distribution

Please see below. Chief Quinones has ok'd the association to deliver a box of Bibles to each of the six district stations and the HQ Information Desk. Please advise your clerks this will be happening over the next several days and make the Bibles available to the officers. Do not hand them out but let them know they are available and free for them to take if they choose to. Thank you.

From: Sich, Sylvia -- DPD
Sent: Friday, September 06, 2013 10:47 AM
Subject: Bible Distribution

Larry Duland, with the Gideon Bible Association, contacted me. He was referred by Bob Ryan, who heads up the Rocky Mountain Baptist Association and worked closely with me during the DNC. The Gideon Association is in Denver to distribute Bibles to police, sheriff and fire departments, along with hotels and schools. They have obtained a letter of permission from the Denver city attorney's office to make the distribution, and have already worked with the DSD chaplain for distribution to the Sheriffs. The PD chaplains do not want to be involved (unknown reason), so Larry called me asking for advice.

Apparently this event has happened in the past and the association worked with each individual district captain. I do not see a problem with the distribution, they are not handing a Bible to each individual officer; a delivery would be made to a location with the amount needed.

Thoughts on this?

One quick thought occurred to a few officers, who supplied us with the e-mails: Has anyone at the Denver Police Department heard about the separation of church and state?

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Doug Friednash.
We thought the Denver City Attorney's Office might have, so contacted City Attorney Doug Friednash to find out about the alleged "letter of permission." And after doing some checking, yesterday he sent us this response:
The City Attorney's Office has not given permission to the Gideon Association to distribute Bibles to our Police, Fire and Sheriff Departments, and no such distribution is taking place. The "letter of permission" that the Gideon Association claimed gave them this authorization said no such thing. It was a letter reiterating the position of this office that a permit is not required to distribute Bibles on public sidewalks.
And at the Denver Department of Public Safety, which oversees the DPD, fire and sheriff's departments, communications director Daelene Mix confirmed that the department had determined that the Gideons did not have appropriate permission, and "no distribution will take place."

We love free reading material as much as the next person: No permit is required to distribute free newspapers, either. And if officers want to keep a Bible in their private arsenal, that's okay with us, too. But on the job, we'd rather have the DPD throwing the book at scofflaws, rather than stocking the good book.

More from the Calhoun Wake-Up Call archive: "Nine new states that could secede from the state."

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27 comments
peakstar
peakstar

They probably don't have room in their desks anyway.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice

So if you read the Bible, you automatically become a good person? Hmm. . . That's one of the problems with this country.

Candie Bernard
Candie Bernard

Yes, it would have been a big deal. Completely inappropriate.

Amanda Scott
Amanda Scott

I'm very pleased to see that the majority of comments on this thread are in support of the separation of church and state.

Amanda Scott
Amanda Scott

Although I agree that we should appeal to Thomas Jefferson's intent on the Establishment Clause on issues he discussed - such as the government establishing a church, the President proclaiming a day of prayer, clergy members serving in the government, teaching the Bible in public schools, etc. - I don't think we can appeal to him on this issue because he never discussed it. So, we have to appeal to the Supreme Court's general principles of Establishment Clause jurisprudence. It has been incorporated through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment against the state and local governments. It has been interpreted to prohibit any government action that endorses one religion over another religion or religion over nonreligion. The Denver Police Department's act of accepting the Gideon's offer to provide Bibles in the drawers of desks constitutes the Department's endorsement of Christianity over other religions and nonreligion.

James Gold
James Gold

I think the answer is pretty clear.

Danny Gillam
Danny Gillam

Way to massacre an email and bend it to meet your own agenda WW. What's even more disturbing is the comments below show that your readers have not read the context of the emails at all. To quote the EMAIL -----> "Please advise your clerks this will be happening over the next several days and make the Bibles available to the officers. Do not hand them out but let them know they are available and free for them to take if they choose to. Thank you." ---- Pretty sure this is no different than if a Muslim wanted to drop off a Quran or a Mormon the book of Mormon. Or any book for that matter. It clearly says, to let them know they're available to officers IF they want them. Not to pass them out. Not sure what the issue is. Oh and for those quoting "Separation of Church and State" - please go do some actual research and find out what Thomas Jefferson wanted to ensure when he wrote ---- "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". I don't see a law here or a congressional act. You need to do a better job of educating your readers and researching your articles.

peakstar
peakstar

Please stop trying to make our officers dumber than they already are.
Thanks,
Concerned citizen.

Ellen Kessler
Ellen Kessler

I'd be more than pissed if a police officer handed me a bible.

Taper Tom
Taper Tom

There is no god, you are all being manipulated by fear.

Aaron LeForce
Aaron LeForce

the bible is the last thing people should read. no book has ever caused as much hate, pain and discrimination as the bible...which was written by man, NOT god! inmates need to read books that expand their mind and educate them on how the world truly is.

Caitlin Roberts
Caitlin Roberts

It's a big deal. The police in this town have every right to use the bible in their own lives as a resource for strength and guidance. However, the minute the focus becomes to proselytize and not to serve and protect, we have a problem.

Toby Hartman
Toby Hartman

If some of the officers took the time to read and understand the "good book", maybe we wouldn't have so many officers under investigation.

Rick Rabner
Rick Rabner

Put simply, very likely a violation.

peakstar
peakstar

@Amanda Scott Me too. These days every CNN article about similar subjects have around 90% of commentators against the perpetration of the old myths as truth. Its wonderful that the tide is finally turning in this country.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Danny Gillam Interesting post, Danny. We're going to make it an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks.

heavennorthrop
heavennorthrop

@Danny Gillam If Muslims wanted the Quran given to police officers the Christian Extremists would have a crap fest.  NO religion should be involved in the police department, EVER doesn't matter which one. 

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Ellen Kessler You're not alone, Ellen. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

heavennorthrop
heavennorthrop

@Caitlin Roberts Yes in their own lives not in their jobs

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Caitlin Roberts Strong argument, Caitlin. Thanks for posting.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Toby Hartman Very pointed post, Toby. Thanks for weighing in.

BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

@Toby Hartman As long as they don't read the parts about murder, rape, torture, incest, and infanticide done in HIS name.

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