N.C. sheriff’s office cohabitation policy unconstitutional, FFRF warns

A new religious discriminatory policy has raised serious legal and constitutional issues, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has warned the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office.

FFRF was made aware that the sheriff’s office has impermissibly endorsed religion through threats to the employment of those who do not comply with a new policy:

Effective immediately!

The policy has been changed in reference to Cohabitation. The policy change will be distributed on Monday. It will be prohibited for you to live with another while employed at the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office unless you are officially married according to the law and word of God, [emphasis added] sisters, brothers, or family by blood. This shall not apply to those whom are currently cohabitating. However, if your current relationship with the other party should cease, you will comply with the new policy change.

Thank you

Sheriff

FFRF has written to the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office requesting that it rescind this blatantly unconstitutional policy and immediately cease its enforcement. The sheriff’s office cannot endorse any religion and should not issue religiously discriminatory policies to be enforced against its employees, FFRF reminds the department.

“By instating a policy that limits employees’ behavior outside of work to that which you deem to be ‘according to the law and word of God,’ your office unconstitutionally promoted religion and threatens to punish those who believe differently,” FFRF Legal Fellow Brendan Johnson writes to Sheriff Ralph Kersey.

“This policy rests on archaic notions of biblical morality that have no place dictating modern workplace guidelines,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor comments. “It is a staggering violation of the rights of conscience of every Scotland County Sheriff's Office employee.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 30,000 members and several chapters across the country, including over 600 members and a chapter in North Carolina. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state, and to educate the public on matters relating 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.

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