LIMA — Religion doesn’t stay within the church or within the home for a Lima police officer or a local businessman. It comes with them to work every day.
In that regard, they know it cannot be easy right now for19-year-old Angus T. Jones, an actor on the CBS comedy, “Two and a Half Men.” He publicly advised Americans not to watch the show based on his faith and is now facing criticism for his remarks.
Lima Police Lt. Jim Baker is someone who says he cannot separate his role as a Christian from his role as a police investigator.
“The whole idea is to serve and being compassionate for people,” he said. “That’s how I approach everything that I do. You can’t compartmentalize yourself and say, ‘I’m this here, I’m that there.’ I’m all together, body and spirit. Wherever, I am, it’s me.”
According to a Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey, 78.4 percent of all Americans consider themselves Christians. But with the separation of church and state, more Christians are hesitant to profess their faith in their workplaces.
“It’s not easy,” said Tom Ahl, owner of Tom Ahl Car Dealer in Lima. “But I honestly don’t know how you can make it in business these days without living by God’s word. We have to treat our customers how He would want us to treat them.”
Ahl stressed that even though it may not always be the easier route, it is the right route.
“He (God) drives our business, the way we do business,” Ahl said. “A lot of dealers, they make as much as they can on every single deal. And while we’d like to do that, you’ve got morals and you’ve got to remember that you’re here to serve and you do business in a fashion where you’re trying to get the best deal possible and save the customer as much money as possible.”
Baker, who is also a pastor, sometimes has to go to crime scenes where there has been a shooting or stabbing and witness firsthand the aftermath.
“Well obviously I deal with a lot of grief in my position,” he said. “And I have training for that, but it (my faith) certainly helps. It also helps on the other side too, because I see some of the needs of the community in my position. When I talk with other pastors, I can speak about ‘Here are some needs in the community. I see it every single day.’ It goes across my desk every single day.”
He said he doesn’t think there are really any parts of his job that his religion makes it more difficult for him to perform duties.
“That’s a good question,” he said, pausing to think about it for about 30 seconds. “So far, it really hasn’t. It’s really only helped. A lot of times a vast majority that go into law enforcement really go into it because they want to help people and sometimes having the understanding that you can only do so much, I think that helps because you can experience some burnout when you can’t see you’re making a difference. I think it helps on the religious side that there’s a much bigger picture and long-term picture, it helps.”
And Baker really has used his position to better the community. He organized and started a men’s prayer walk three years ago after seeing the interest for it.
“Men can walk and see and smell and experience God,” he said. “That’s been something that’s really been great.”
He also is in the process of reopening an abandoned church that was on the corner of Harrison Avenue and Franklin Street and restoring it, something he said he saw when he was on the job.
“My understanding of the Bible, government is God-ordained and there’s a place for government,” he said. “I just happen to be serving a dual-role at the same time. I don’t see a conflict at all.”
Ahl has also been using his position for the better of Lima.
“We really are here to serve,” he said. “Whether it be in the way we make a service contract, we give you a fair deal, the best price we can find for you. That’s the ultimate thing Christ wants us to do so we try to serve our customers.”