A North Carolina sheriff has refused to remove a Bible verse from a wall in his office that a nonprofit organization says violates the First Amendment. The Columbus County Sheriff’s Office has a Bible verse that says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13,” in one of its hallways. But after the Freedom of Religion Foundation asked Sheriff Jody Greene to remove the quote, he refused to do so.
The citation can be seen in numerous photos shared by the Sheriff’s Office on their Facebook page.
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Freedom from Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit group that promotes the separation of church from state. The nonprofit says the quote on the sheriff’s office wall is a direct violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which prohibits any government agency from establishing an official religion and prohibits government actions that favor one religion over another, according to Cornell Law School.
Foundation president Annie Laurie Gaylor issued a statement Dec. 14 and said, “The Columbus County Sheriff’s Office must serve all citizens equally, whether they are Christians or not. An openly Christian post in a law enforcement division sends a message of exclusion.”
A lawyer for the foundation, Chris Line, said: “This display of Bible verses promoting Christianity in a sheriff’s office building is properly considered by a reasonable observer to be an endorsement of religion and is therefore unconstitutional. .” According to Pew Research, 65% of Americans call themselves Christians and about 26% are non-religious.
Sheriff Greene shared the request in a Facebook post Tuesday and wrote, “This verse is one of my favorite Bible verses, and it seemed fitting for all the adversity I had to endure.”
Additionally, he also shared that before officers execute a search warrant or “any service that puts our people in immediate danger,” they always pray.
Greene also added, “I was raised in the church. I have been in law enforcement for over thirty years. My training has taught me to value God, family and my country. Companies spend thousands of dollars in motivational courses to come up with motivational slogans. . My motivation comes from the greatest motivational speaker of all time, Jesus Christ.”
He said he intended to maintain the quote and that the quote was paid for with private funds. He added: “I’m not afraid of much, but I’m afraid of burning in hell. Let’s be clear, I will not give up my position and my Christian beliefs.”
As of Wednesday evening, there were no updates from the Sheriff’s Office on Facebook or any other social media platform.