Alabama police blame homicides on locals 'embracing Satan'

Alabama police blame homicides on locals 'embracing Satan'
A rural Alabama police department is facing backlash from a religious freedom group after blaming an increase in area homicides on local youth rejecting God and embracing Satan.

The murders happened "because we have turned away from God and embraced Satan," according to a Facebook post from the Opp Police Department which blamed "our young people" for two homicides in two days in Covington County, a district which borders Florida and contains the 6,500-person town of Opp. There have been five murders in Covington County this year.

"It is time to ask for God's help to stop this," the post continued, calling on parents to step up and raise their kids ("not have them raise us") and support law enforcement. "Bottom line, there are sheep; there are wolves, and there are sheep dogs. Which group do you belong to?" ends the impassioned all-caps call-to-arms.

After receiving "multiple citizen complaints" about the post, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent the department a letter reminding them it is illegal for a government body to engage in "promotion and rejection of specific religious beliefs." The group asked the Opp PD to remove the offending language and avoid posting religious content in the future.

"By including religious messages in this otherwise important post, the department sends a message to those who do not believe in 'GOD' that they are not 'favored members of the political community," FFRF wrote, pointing out that "the First Amendment prohibits even the appearance of religious endorsement by government officials."

All legal matters aside, the letter continued, the claim that embracing God will lower murder rates is just plain wrong. The FFRF claimed the world's most secular countries actually have lower violent crime rates and higher standards of living – a pattern they say can be found within US states as well, singling out Vermont and Oregon as states with low murder rates as opposed to the highly-religious Louisiana and, yes, Alabama.

As of Thursday, the post appears to have been removed from the departmental Facebook page but is attached to the FFRF's letter. The group has clashed with Opp before, releasing a statement condemning the town's school district regarding "religious elements" in a graduation speech last year.

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