Free to Believe

David Bojczuk and Amanda Pettepher

Bartow County Jail: Cartersville, Georgia

For more than nine months, police officers Amanda Pettepher and David Bojczuk (pronounced boy-check) spent every third Thursday night in jail—and it had nothing to do with work. The Cartersville natives were part of a group that prayed, read the Bible with, and ministered to inmates. That all stopped this spring, when another department complained because of a concern that they could legally be considered members of the clergy, and therefore have “clergy privilege” rules in regard to statements made to them by inmates, potentially leading to those statements being ruled inadmissible in court. 

The complaint seemed highly far-fetched to the officers. “We didn’t try to counsel prisoners,” says Amanda. “We just went up there, prayed and led a service.” Moreover, the local sheriff’s office as well as other law-enforcement agencies allowed their officers to participate.

Despite having the Chief’s permission to perform their ministry, the pair were told to stop. What happens if we don’t, David asked? You’ll be written up every time until you’re dismissed, he was told. The cops saved them the trouble and resigned. Bojczuk, a husband and father of eight children, has no regrets. “You have to take a stand… If I chose my job over my God, what would that say to [my kids]?” He is now exploring his options with entering ministry full-time, while Pettepher has seen her crafts business take off since resigning.

The duo are telling their story and hoping more people will fight back in order to change department policy, especially for the other officers who have since stopped taking part in the ministry since it was shut down. “We truly feel like what they did was wrong,” Pettepher says. “And if America continues on that path, then where is it going to lead? They’ve taken God out of everything, and look at the United States today and the mess that it’s in. That’s got to change.”

Photo credit: Courtesy of Fox News