FFRF to Proselytizing Police Chief: Cease & Desist

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, national state/church watchdog, is objecting to a police chief using his position to promote his personal religious agenda and ideology.

Police Chief Gary Jones has apparently been using the Department of Public Resources Facebook page in Harlem, Georgia not only to proselytize but to promote his church and even the beating of children in the name of Jesus.

FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel sent a letter on Nov. 21 to the David Sward, director of the Harlem Department of Public Safety, regarding the egregious conduct of Jones.

Jones' Facebook posts include remarks such as, "No, it is not reasonable to strike a child with a bat or some other object, but you can use a belt and strike their rear-ends. Parents be nosy, check behind your kids and never assume that they will always be truthful. Doing these very things just may save the life of your child. Fathers you are the head of the home and God will hold you accountable."

"I am certainly not trying to turn this into a so-called religious site," Jones also posted. "However since my last posting about 30 minutes ago, my wife called and said our 5 year old daughter was eating breakfast this morning and plainly told her mother that she wanted to accept Jesus as her Savior and ask him into her heart. Her mother prayed with her and afterwards she said this means I am going to heaven now."

Seidel's letter called this practice unconstitutional and inappropriate: "The police chief's overt promotion of religion using the Harlem Police Chief's office, title and Facebook page gives the unfortunate impression that the Harlem government supports and endorses particular religious rituals. If Mr. Jones wishes to disseminate these messages, he must do so on his own personal Facebook page. He cannot use the machinery of the government, or even his own title, to push people to live in accordance with his religion or go to church."

Despite the fact that Jones has noted that his comments are in fact "his" opinion, he has also used the Facebook page to advertise his church.

Another of Jones' posts stated, "I will continue to post and most of the people in Harlem are of Christian belief and I've gotten a lot more support than the people that don't support it."

Seidel pointed out that the PEW Forum has recently shown that 19% of the American population is nonreligious, and 27% are not Christian. Jones' posts can be viewed as turing them into political outsiders.

"The solution is simple," wrote FFRF. "Jones must stop using a government office to promote his personal religion."

FFRF, based in Madison, Wis., represents 20,000 members including 380 in Ga.

Compiled by Lauryn Seering

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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