Georgia Sheriff’s Office Called Out for Having an Official Chaplain and Religious Poems on Its Website October 28, 2014

Georgia Sheriff’s Office Called Out for Having an Official Chaplain and Religious Poems on Its Website

If you check out the website for the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office (in Georgia), you might notice this religious poem that has no business being there:

When the Lord was creating peace officers, he was into his sixth day of overtime when an angel appeared and said, “You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”

The angel circled the model of the peace officer very slowly, “Can it think?” she asked.

“You bet,” said the Lord. “It can tell you the elements of a hundred crimes; recite Miranda warnings in its sleep; detain, investigate, search, and arrest a gang member on the street in less time than it takes five learned judges to debate the legality of the stop… and still it keeps its sense of humor.

Turns out that’s not the only problem. The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the Sheriff’s Office recently documenting another religious poem as well as an even more egregious constitutional violation: They have an official Chaplain who “may be called upon to lead in prayer for such activities as graduations, meeting, banquets, etc.” and is available “to conduct training for department personnel and their families in such areas as stress management, ethics, dealing with death, personality profiles, etc.”

FFRF attorney Sam Grover writes:

it is unconstitutional for a public sheriff’s office to indicate a preference for Christianity and religion by quoting the Christian bible and posting religious stories on its official website. This proselytizing message gives the appearance of government endorsement of Christianity. It also conflicts with personal religious and nonreligious views of many area residents and employees.

We ask that you discontinue all coordination with the chaplain program. The best approach by the LCSO is to provide secular support services and trainers and leave determinations on religious matters to individuals. In addition, the LCSO must remove all inappropriate religious material from its website.

The Sheriff’s Office is being especially sneaky about this, because both the chaplain and the religious poems aren’t directly accessible from the main website. Which I assume means they either are trying to hide the pages or once linked to them more directly than they do now.

In any case, it all sends the wrong message: That the people tasked with protecting all the people in the community care more about Christians than everyone else.

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