If you are any kind of religious or spiritual or atheistic entity located in any kind of church, mosque, synagogue, temple, garage, shack, outhouse, trailer, or shed that wants to "fight crime" and get a significant chunk of change for a down payment on a "church van," well hurry on down to Sheriff Morgan's church van finance company, also known as the Law Enforcement Trust Fund, and he'll fix you right up. Better be quick, funds will definitely run out. Oh, and its probably strictly based on what have you done or will do for him to get him elected and re-elected.
CJ's Street Report has been posting articles on how Sheriff Morgan uses Law Enforcement Trust Fund (LETF) monies not only to violate the Florida constitution on the very strict separation of church and state, as well as providing charitable LETF donations to at least one non-profit organization that supports his and other Republican candidacies, namely, the Filipino-American Association of Pensacola, but now Sheriff Morgan is apparently using the flimsiest fig leaf to cover the blatant political use of LETF donations to non-profit organizations in Escambia County.
Case in point is the Brownsville Assembly of God (BAG) over on Mobile Highway.
Back in the 1990s, BAG led the United States in a massive Christian revival based on stories of bogus miracles, shady finances that were uncovered by the Pensacola News Journal and conservative Christians, and a cynical strategy by the pastors to manipulate their followers (and others around the country) into believing something "real" was happening.
Even with apparently new pastors, old habits die hard at the Brownsville Assembly of God.
On March 14, 2015, the BAG applied for a $10,000 donation from Sheriff Morgan's Law Enforcement Trust Fund. The $10,000, according to the application, was for a "church van."
The LETF monies, by Florida statute, "shall be used for school resource officer, crime prevention, safe neighborhood, drug abuse education and prevention programs, or for other law enforcement purposes, which include defraying the cost of protracted or complex investigations, providing additional equipment or expertise, purchasing automated external defibrillators for use in law enforcement vehicles, and providing matching funds to obtain federal grants."
Florida's Constitution, specifically Article 1 Section 3 on religious freedom reads, in part, "No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution." (h/t Maren's Blog)
The Brownsville Assembly of God justified their request for a "church van" thusly:
"We are asking for funding for a church van to pick up neighborhood children and youth who do not have a way to the children & youth programs of the church. These programs instill moral and ethical values into a young person that will contribute to crime & drug prevention as well as drug education and neighborhood safety" [emphasis added].
Sheriff Morgan generously gave the Brownsville Assembly of God church a check (#10015504) on July 10, 2015, as a down payment on a church van that provides direct support to a sectarian church in violation of the Florida Constitution and apparently outside the bounds of a reasonable reading of the Florida statute governing the LETF.
What will that get him? No doubt, plenty of goodwill from the ministers of the Brownsville Assembly of God who will in all likelihood invite Sheriff Morgan to come to the church to be recognized for his good work and thank him for the van money. Oh, and will he mention its an election year coming up? Will the BAG pastors be sure to mention that church members should vote for godly men and women for local office and look at the Sheriff with a gleam in their eye?
This is just blatant electioneering and political preening by Sheriff Morgan.
But, hey, all you mosques, synagogues, churches, temples, huts, garages, shacks, atheists, spiritualists, pastafarians, Satanists, and whatnot who will transport children and youth to any kind of program that has anything remotely to do with instilling values that assist crime prevention or drug education or a safe neighborhood, apply for your down payment money from Sheriff Morgan's church van finance company, better known as the Law Enforcement Trust Fund.