The Freedom From Religion Foundation is appalled that S.C. state Rep. Thomas Beach is using state resources to send proselytizing messages to his constituents.
A South Carolina constituent contacted FFRF to report that Beach sent them a “birthday card” with a message that encouraged them to dedicate their life to Jesus and repent their sins:
Another year of life upon this earth.
I hope you have used it well and to the fullest. I do encourage you to dedicate your life to our Father in Heaven. It was He who gave us life.
It is up to us on what we do with it and we will give an account for it. The world might be chaotic, broken, and crazy, but I have found a simple solution.
Repent of your sins, and place your faith in Jesus.
I pray the Lord places a hedge of protection around you and your family. Happy Birthday!
Rep. Thomas Beach
FFRF is demanding that Beach immediately cease using his position as a state representative to promote his personal religious beliefs.
“You are free to practice your religion in your personal capacity, but you cannot abuse your position as a government official to impose religion on or to proselytize your constituents in your official capacity,” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line writes to Beach.
As a government official, Beach is tasked with upholding the Constitution of the United States — including the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. By proselytizing to constituents in his official capacity, Beach is doing the opposite.
He serves a religiously diverse community that consists not only of Christians but also Jewish, Muslim, atheist and other non-Christian constituents. When Beach promotes Christianity through constituent communications, he needlessly alienates those constituents who are part of the 37 percent of Americans that is non-Christian, including the nearly one-in-three Americans who now identifies as religiously unaffiliated. Beach sends the message that he and his office not only prefers those citizens who are religious, but those who subscribe to Christianity over all other religions.
Beach’s elected office belongs to “We the people,” not the office’s temporary occupant, FFRF emphasizes. As a state representative, Beach is charged with great responsibility and has been given significant trust by citizens in his community, including those citizens who do not share his religious viewpoint.
“This violation takes the cake,” quips FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “His greeting demonstrates the absolute worst way to wish someone a happy birthday. Admonishing your constituents to fall in line or face biblical punishment is coercive, insensitive and unconstitutional.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 40,000 members nationwide, including hundreds of members in South 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.