Remove bible verse, FFRF insists to N.C. sheriff

Henderson PR

Please immediately get rid of a bible verse displayed in your office, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is urging a North Carolina sheriff.

A concerned Henderson County resident has informed the state/church watchdog that the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office proudly exhibits “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God – Matthew 5:9” on one of its walls.

It is inappropriate and unconstitutional for the Sheriff’s Office to promote Christianity so blatantly, FFRF asserts.

“The Supreme Court has long held that the Establishment Clause ‘mandates government neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion,’” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line writes to Henderson County Sheriff Lowell Griffin. “The Sheriff’s Office’s display conveys a message to non-Christians that they are not welcome or accepted in Henderson County.”

Citizens interact with and rely on law enforcement officers during some of the most urgent and vulnerable times of their lives, FFRF reminds Griffin. As sheriff, he serves a diverse population that consists of not only Christians but also minority religious and nonreligious citizens. Any religious messages that the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office sends excludes those who are a part of 37 percent of Americans who are non-Christians, including the 29 percent of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated. A biblical display in a sheriff’s office needlessly turns non-Christian and nonreligious Henderson County residents into political outsiders in their own community.

The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office is supposed to serve all citizens — regardless of belief or nonbelief. That’s why FFRF is urging the Sheriff’s Office to recognize its obligation to provide all citizens with an environment free from religious coercion by removing its exclusionary display.

“A bible verse has no right to be given pride of place in a sheriff’s office,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “It sends a sectarian religious message at odds with the secular foundations of our country.”

You can read the full FFRF letter here.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with 40,000 members and several chapters across the country, including more than 900 members and a local chapter in North Carolina. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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