If you got pulled over by Indiana State Trooper Brian Hamilton, there's a chance you would have gotten a ticket … and a sermon. And, state police officials say, it was Hamilton's penchant for proselytizing that cost him his job, the Indianapolis Star reports. He was fired Thursday after being on desk duty since January. Hamilton, a 14-year veteran of the department, has been sued twice in the past two years for asking citizens he'd stopped whether they had accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. "Oh well," Hamilton tells WTTV. "I'm just following what the Lord told me to do. So if the Lord tells me to speak about Jesus Christ, I do. And that's why they fired me, so that's where we're at."
In a statement, per WCPO, state police Superintendent Doug Carter says citizens and police officers alike enjoy freedom of speech and religion, but "there are appropriate and proper restrictions placed on agents of the state related to their actions while engaged in their official duties." A civil rights attorney tells WTTV that questioning people about religion during a traffic stop is "inherently coercive." In 2014, Ellen Bogan and the ACLU sued Hamilton after he asked her during a traffic stop whether she had a home church and had accepted Christ, and then handed her a religious pamphlet. She said she felt she could not leave and had to answer his questions, "even though I had my warning." A similar incident in January prompted another lawsuit. Another state police official says Hamilton would have gotten the ax "regardless of any legal action initiated" recently by the ACLU. (Read more Indiana stories.)