Robert “Todd” Christensen is a retired police officer from Kalamazoo and a United States Army veteran who served in Afghanistan.
He has dedicated his life to service and protecting public safety – and he strongly opposes RFRA. Earlier this year, he testified before the Judiciary Committee of the Michigan State Senate in opposition to SB 4. This blog post highlights some of the reasons why Todd opposes this bill.
While Todd believes the sponsors and supporters of this legislation have good intentions, his experiences as a soldier and police officer lead him to strongly oppose such a measure.
“In Afghanistan I was a Combat Advisor embedded with the Afghan National Army in Kandahar Province. I witnessed first hand how Islamic Fundamentalists took their religious belief to the extreme; harming people in the name of God.
“Of course, that’s not what this bill is about, but we have to be mindful of the unintended consequences and what could happen in the future,” Todd says.
As an Army veteran and a retired police officer, Todd has taken oaths to protect and uphold the laws and constitutions of both the United States and Michigan, an oath he takes very seriously.
“The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides powerful and important protections for religion in our country – and I would never want to weaken that,” says Todd.
“But, as a police officer and a soldier, I learned to always try and view the world objectively, and that means not putting one group’s rights over another. It means looking at all people with no regard to race, creed, color, and so on,” says Todd.
“Unfortunately,” said Todd, “This bill doesn’t do that. And even though it’s not yet law, people are already using this proposal as a justification for discriminatory behavior, behavior that has no place in our state,” he says.
“We should be focused on closing the door to discrimination,” Todd says, “We should be looking for ways to protect more people from discrimination – including LGBT people in Michigan.”
As a gay man who served as a police officer and a soldier, Todd knows that what matters most is someone’s ability to do their job. He is the author of the book titled, Out of the Darkness and Into the Blue and is a frequent lecturer and trainer on a host of important issues; he also works as a police academy instructor.
We’re very grateful for Todd’s service to our state and our nation, and for sharing his story.