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Fired trooper: 'I'm a soldier for Jesus Christ'

Posted: 5:08 PM, Apr 07, 2016
Updated: 2016-04-12 07:24:02-04
Lawsuit: Trooper fired for asking about religion

Connorsville, Ind. -- A 14-year-veteran of the Indiana State Police fired April 7 after accusations he proselytized to people he stopped for traffic violations defended his actions during a recent visit to the Tri-State.

"I work for the state but ultimately I'm a soldier for Jesus Christ," said former ISP Trooper Brian Hamilton while in Connorsville to preach. "God has used that job in the last three years for what it was supposed to be meant for, and that was to spread the word to tell people when they're hurting the truth. Government programs can not touch anybody. It's the word of God that can change people."

The ACLU of Indiana filed a lawsuit last week against Hamilton on behalf of Wendy Pyle.

The lawsuit claims Hamilton gave Pyle a warning ticket for speeding, then asked her what church she attended and whether she was saved.

She says she did not feel free to leave while the questions were being asked. She filed a formal complaint about the stop. 

Hamilton has been sued for similar claims before. In Oct. 2014, he was accused of prolonging a traffic stop by asking a woman about her faith, then handing her a pamphlet about how to become a Christian. The civil case was closed in April 2015.

On April 7, ISP announced it had terminated Hamilton's employment for insubordination and neglect of duty.

Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter released a statement Thursday about Hamilton's termination:

“While all of us – citizen and police officer - enjoy the right to freedom of religion and freedom of speech, there are appropriate and proper restrictions placed on agents of the State related to their actions while engaged in their official duties. While I respect Mr. Hamilton’s religious views I am also charged to respect every citizen’s rights and the best way forward for the citizens of Indiana, and for Mr. Hamilton, was to end his employment as a state police officer. Making the decision to end a person’s career is not a decision I make without considerable thought.  I truly wish Brian the best in his future and the ability to follow his heart.”

If Hamilton did what the lawsuit alleges, that's a violation of the separation of church and state, according to First Amendment attorney Louis Sirkin.

"He's advocating a religious position, and there's supposed to be complete separation between that and he should not be advocating and asking a question like that," Sirkin said.

"He's certainly entitled to go out and advocate his position, but not as an employee of the state, and particularly not when he's on duty."