Coffee County DA probe initiated due to FFRF

Craig NorthcottA Freedom From Religion Foundation complaint against a blatantly divisive Tennessee district attorney has prompted an official investigation.

Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott is patently unfit for office and unfit to hold a top post in the state DA association, the Freedom From Religion Foundation contended in a recent letter. Several Tennesseans alerted FFRF, a state/church watchdog, to Northcott’s alarming statements and public admissions. He is using a government office to champion his religion, discriminating in the administration of justice (by his own admission), spreading mistruths and generally bringing the office he temporarily occupies into disrepute. 

“Promoting one’s personal religion using a government office and title gives the impression that the government supports and endorses Northcott’s religious message — a message of Christian nationalism,” FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel wrote to Coffee County officials.

In addition to that letter, FFRF filed an official complaint with the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility, which polices the legal profession for ethics violations. FFRF’s notification fell on receptive ears.

“Thank you for the information you sent us about the referenced attorney,” the disciplinary counsel of the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee has responded. “This office has opened an investigation and you will be notified of the results of that investigation.” 

Northcott has made problematic declarations on several fronts. He has admitted to failing to provide equal protection to LGBTQ citizens under the law. And Northcott has also publicly expounded that he uses “God’s standard” as a guide on whether to impose the death penalty for first degree murder. This is a gross violation of his public duty, and since he is chair of the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference’s Committee on Capital Punishment, is a particularly egregious breach, FFRF is contending. Northcott has made also made many comments on his official District Attorney Facebook page that are pro-Christian and against Muslims and freethinkers.

Craig Northcott is a Christian nationalist who openly views non-Christians as his enemy and as such is unfit for his DA position and should resign or be removed, as well as be immediately stripped of all his Tennessee DA General Conference responsibilities, FFRF is insisting. The state/church watchdog is delighted that its alert about Northcott’s misdeeds is beginning to have the desired effect.

“Northcott’s pronouncements are especially reprehensible for someone with such life-and-death power as a DA,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “We hope and trust that the investigation will be carried to its logical culmination.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a nationwide nonprofit with more than 31,000 members and several chapters all over the country, including over 400 members and a chapter in Tennessee. FFRF protects the constitutional separation between state and church, and educates the public about matters related to nontheism.

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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