When religion and police work mix

It’s a charming story out of Winona, Minn., where a police officer helped out a girl whose bike was stolen, although it may have a faint similarity to some people with that story last week in Indiana where a police officer turned a traffic stop into a proselytizing session of sorts when he asked the scofflaw whether she’d been saved.

Here’s the story from the Winona Daily News:

A little girl came home from school to find her bike stolen.

“(She was) just devastated,” her mother, Chela Navarro, told the paper, and so on their way to a bookstore to take her mind off her loss, they saw the bike jammed into the branches of a tree, destroyed.

They called the police who took the information down and promised to try to find out who would do such a thing.

Later in the evening, there was a knock on the door. It was the police officer, according to the Daily News.

He asked to see Alena. He didn’t know who had stolen and damaged her bike, but he did have other news.

“He told her that it broke his heart to see how hurt by this she was and how sorry he was that this happened,” Chela said.

“He said that sometimes bad things happen to good people for no reason, but as long as you keep your faith in God, always know that he walks with us and don’t let anger and hate into your heart, good things will start to happen.”

Then he walked out to his squad car — and came back with a new bike.

There’s no indication the officer was doing anything but reinforcing the family’s teaching to the girl. The bookstore the family was heading for when they saw the destroyed bike is run by a Lutheran church that helps “families in need who desire a Christian education.” That, alone, separates the story from the story in Indiana.

Which brings us to today’s question: Is there a proper time to mix police work and religion?

Before you answer, consider this old NewsCut post about the people who delivered bad news to people when the I-35W bridge collapsed. They were chaplains.