Eleventh Congregational Church of Oakland isn’t the first house of worship in this liberal Northern California stronghold to share a controversial worldview with conservatives in places like Placer County.
“When seconds count, the cops are shooting people just minutes away,” says Brother Maynard. “So we’ve decided not to call the cops. Ever. For any reason.”
For an increasing number of liberal churches, those reasons include minor acts like graffiti or homeless trespassers and major problems like mental health crises and mass shootings.
“We used to call 911 at least twice a month,” says Maynard, “but now it feels like we have blood on our hands. So we’re prepared to have our entire congregation die in a mass shooting rather than call the cops.”
A few hours up Highway 50 in Placerville, many conservative churches share parts of that viewpoint.
“Up here in Hangtown, the police are an important part of the community,” says Sister Mary Elephant of Coldsteel Community Church. “But when seconds count, they’re minutes away, so we’re armed most of the time.”
Sister Mary yanks a .45 caliber hog leg from under her robes. “I plan to protect my sheep from evil,” she says. “If any mass shooters wanna come through here, they’ll have to deal with me first. And then I’ll call 911.”
This shared doubt about the effectiveness of policing is concerning to law enforcement in red and blue counties alike.
“The police don’t just need reform,” says Brother Maynard. “The police need to be abandoned altogether. Our plan is to replace them with communists from Black Liberation Collective.”
The churches call their drastic approach “divesting” from policing, although it’s not clear whether the replacement force would be armed, or if the inner cities could be governed at all under such a “house divided” approach.
“It’s a challenging ask,” says Maynard. “Who do we rely on? What if there’s a burglary? Or a situation of violence or abuse in the congregation?”
Sister Mary favors the Second Amendment Sanctuary approach instead.
“I love Brother Maynard, but we need to stand as one country united under the Constitution,” she says. “Besides that, Marxists always lie. If you think state-sanctioned violence is bad under the American system, just wait.”