The last time I wrote about Polk County (Florida) Sheriff Grady Judd was in 2010, when he was removing basketball hoops from the local prison and giving them away to local churches. When Judd was asked why he wouldn’t give the hoops to a secular organization, his response (referencing an atheist group) was, “Why should I kowtow?”… as if giving them to a public school meant bolstering the “atheist agenda.”
I just learned that Judd recently delivered a guest sermon at First Baptist Church on the Mall last month — it was called “Wouldn’t the World be Better if Everyone Behaved Like a Christian” — and he didn’t do it as a private citizen. He delivered it while wearing his sheriff uniform, suggesting that he was speaking as a government official:
About 15 minutes in, he explains how he created “faith-based dorms” for people in prison (at no cost to taxpayers, he added, thinking that makes it legal) and helped convert many prisoners to Christianity.
(It’s not the only time he’s spoken at the church, either.)
EllenBeth Wachs, who tipped me off to this, also did a public records request on this matter, which turned up sermon notes from 2013. This was a speech promoting Christianity sent from the sheriff’s office to a pastor. It suggests that we live in a Christian Nation and includes a rant about those nasty atheists who tried to stop him from giving basketball hoops to a church.
This is a man incapable of separating church and state. He’s shown it time and time again. He equates Christianity with goodness, which doesn’t bode well for people looking for justice who don’t believe in his imaginary friend.
I’ve informed FFRF about this violation, but I’m not sure what, if anything, can be done.