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Title Sword and Shield

Subhead As an Officer How Can I be Faithful to My Job and My Faith

Teaser In light of the Bible’s aAdmonition aAbout kKilling, hHow cCan
Oofficers Llive Oout tTheir fFaith on the sStreets?
Author David J. Fair, D.Min., Senior Chaplain, Texas Department of Public
Safety’s Critical Incident Response Team

I am often asked by law enforcement officers, “Chaplain, what if I have to shoot

someone? The 6th Commandment, says, ‘Thou sShall nNot kKill’.”.

If this question is not dealt with properly dealt with, an officer may feel his faith is in
direct conflict with his or her job. If that happens, gGuilt and stress can follow, and that
doesn’t have to happen.

The commandment "Tthou shall not kill" (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17), is better
understood to mean "you shall not murder.," Mmost newer translations of the Bible put it
this way. According to the Bible, not all killing, the taking of a lifelives, is murder.
Murder is the unlawfully taking of human life with malice aforethought.

Armed with this explanation, officers should become more at ease, and understand, their
faith and law enforcement career don’t have to conflict.

Actually when one looks at the New Testament, they discover God ordained authority for
the police. And when people think of authority, they think of THE authorities, law
enforcement officers. The Living Bible puts it best:.

Romans 13:1-5
13:1 Obey the government, for God is the one who has put it there. There is no
government anywhere that God has not placed in power. 2 So those who refuse to obey
the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow. 3 For the
policeman does not frighten people who are doing right; but those doing evil will always
fear him. So if you don't want to be afraid, keep the laws and you will get along well. 4
The policeman is sent by God to help you. But if you are doing something wrong, of
course you should be afraid, for he will have you punished. He is sent by God for that
very purpose. 5 Obey the laws, then, for two reasons: first, to keep from being punished,
and second, just because you know you should.

Another question that comes up, especially from undercover officers, is“ Chaplain, when
I’m under deep cover, I have to live a life that is totally opposite to my faith. I often have
to lie, and compromise in other ways. How can I even consider myself a person of

The best answer and example I have heard encourages the undercover officer to look at
the under cover assignment, as a role play or a theatrical production. In plays, movies,
and the like, we assume a “character.”. In the under cover role,l if we consider we stay

“in character”, and are acting out a role, it becomes easier for us to feel we are not
compromising our faith.

I have been asked about concerns of carrying religious symbols for protection. These
might be crosses, angels, or similar items, often worn as pins. The question is usually, “ I
want to carry something with me, that gives me protection, comfort, and contact with my
faith. But I don’t want it to be looked at like a rabbit’s foot or other good luck charm.”

There is a place in scripture, where the Apostle Paul, gave out handkerchiefs asre a point
of “contact”. Specifically it says:

Acts 19:11-12

11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and
aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and
the evil spirits left them.
(from New International Version)

I believe the scripture, explains there are items that can used as a “point of contact” for
the believers. Thus there appears to be a clear difference between something with a
spiritual significancet and a good luck charm.

In closing, as a Chaplain, I am called upon to talk to people of all faith traditions, or no

spiritual belief system at all. They usually marvel that spiritual principals work many
times regardless of their personal belief system. As Chaplains, as people of faith, we need
to be ever mindful we are in a unique position to be able to help people regardless of their

It is my hope, officers will read the Chaplain’s Column at regardless of

their beliefs. If you will, and if I and other Chaplains are doing our job, you should
always find something here that will be helpful in life regardless of what you believe.

Web Links: International Conference of Police Chaplains
Crisis Chaplains Response Services

There are a number of useful sites at,, and
Bio Dave Fair, is Director of Chaplain Services for the Brownwood,
Texas Police Department, and the Brown County Sheriff’s Office
where he serves as hostage negotiator. A licensed peace officer,

he also serves as Senior Chaplain for the Texas Department of
Public Safety’s, Critical Incident Response Team, and holds
certifications from the State of Texas as a Mental Health Peace
Officer, Instructor, and Investigative Hypnotist. He was deployed
to Ground Zero following 9/11, and to Eeast Texas for the Space
Shuttle disaster recovery. He also has worked with survivors of
Katrina and Rita Fair is an advisory board member of the
American Association of Police Officers, and written a number of
articles on critical incident stress, and published his first book,
Mastering Law Enforcement Chaplaincy. As Executive Director
of Crisis Response Chaplain Services, Fair is Board Certified as
an Expert in Traumatic Stress, a Fellow of the, American
Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, and is a member of the
American College of Forensic Examiners, International.