Atheist Group Takes Issue With Texas Sheriff’s Quotation of Scripture in Memo

ICC Note: The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) recently issued a letter of complaint after a Texas sheriff included a Bible verse in a departmental memo. The group asserted that including a Bible verse in the memo was unconstitutional and “distort[ed] the role of law enforcement.” Although it is not yet clear if the sheriff plans to respond, the FFRF has requested that the Scripture be removed from the memo and taken down from social media.

03/05/2018 United States (Christian News Network) – One of the nation’s most conspicuous atheist activist groups has submitted a letter of complaint to a sheriff’s office in Texas to assert that the sheriff’s quotation of Romans 13:4 in a memo to officers violates the U.S. Constitution.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) says that a local resident alerted the organization to Sheriff Tracy Murphree’s use of the verse on a departmental memo, which was also posted to social media.

The memo advised officers that in light of the Parkland, Florida shooting, officers are expected to take immediate action in the event of an active shooter situation. It then concluded with Romans 13:4, “For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid, for he beareth not the sword in vain, for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”

However, FFRF asserts that Murphree is not permitted under the Constitution to cite Scripture in his official correspondence.

“It is inappropriate and unconstitutional for any representative of the Denton County Sheriff’s Department, let alone the sheriff himself, to promote the Bible in official communications because doing so conveys government preference for religion over non-religion,” wrote Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel.

FFRF also argued that the Scripture contradicts the Constitution, as it claimed that men ordained the government and not God.

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