A N.C. license facility has ordered a proselytizing employee to stop distributing religious literature after a Freedom From Religion Foundation complaint.
A concerned Morehead City resident contacted FFRF after visiting the City Vehicle & License Plate Renewal Office to report that religious literature was being distributed there. An employee included with the official paperwork a religious pamphlet printed by Grace Baptist Church, which quotes bible verses, discusses Christian notions of heaven and hell, and instructs the reader on how to gain “salvation.”
The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits government sponsorship of religious messages, FFRF reminded the office.
“The Supreme Court has ruled, ‘The Establishment Clause, at the very least, prohibits government from appearing to take a position on questions of religious belief,’” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line wrote to the office. “By distributing Christian literature, the Morehead City Vehicle & License Plate Renewal Office is violating these basic constitutional strictures.”
FFRF asked that religious literature no longer be distributed in this government office and that employees be reminded of their obligation to remain neutral toward religion.
The state/church watchdog’s objection had the desired effect.
“First of all, I would like to apologize to the customer that was given the religious literature,” states a recently received official response. “I agree that should not have happened and that the employee should not have been giving out the religious literature. The employee that was doing that did not have permission to do that in the office. The employee was asked to remove all the religious literature from the office.”
“We are pleased at the alacrity with which the city responded,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor, “and that the city realizes it has no license to proselytize citizens.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 35,000 members and several chapters nationwide, including over 800 members and a chapter in North Carolina. Its purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.