ICC Note: Sheriff Grady Judd of Florida’s Polk County is facing backlash for recently speaking at a church in uniform. After speaking in April at First Baptist Church of Lakeland, the Freedom from Religion Foundation sent a letter to Judd saying that he was excluding other religions as well as those who have no religious affiliation by preaching while wearing his police uniform. However, the sheriff has since stated that he will not give in and will continue speaking in churches while wearing his uniform.
By Heather Clark
06/17/2015 United States (Christian News Network) – A sheriff in Florida is under fire from a prominent atheist activist organization for speaking at a local church in his official uniform.
Sheriff Grady Judd often speaks at churches throughout Polk County—sometimes up to 20 appearances a year—in his uniform. This past April, he spoke to over 2,500 people at the First Baptist Church of Lakeland, delivering a sermon entitled “Wouldn’t the world be better if everyone behaved like a Christian?”
“I was invited to this church, as I am to many churches and secular events, and you know what, the message was clear,” Judd told BayNews9. “The message was uplifting. The message talked about and bragged on how wonderful our community was.”
The sheriff also spoke on his belief that Christ is the answer to crime and lawlessness.
But the Madison, Wisc.-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) claims that it received five complaints about Judd’s appearance, and sent the sheriff a letter stating that using his position to preach about Christianity excludes other religions and those of no religious persuasion.
“Promoting your personal religion using a Polk County government title and uniform gives the unfortunate impression that the county supports and endorses the First Baptist Church on the Mall and its religious teachings,” the letter read.
“Giving this sermon in your official capacity, wearing your official uniform, unabashedly promotes this church and its religious views,” it continued. “You are excluding the nearly 30% of U.S. adults and the 30% of Florida adults who are non-Christian. This message alienates both non-Christians and nonbelievers in Polk County by turning them into political outsiders in their own community.”