A North Carolina sheriff said he “will not waiver” after a religious freedom group requested he remove a Bible quote from a wall located inside the government office.
The quote – “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13.” – can be seen in numerous photos shared on the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.
However, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a national non-profit group that promotes the separation of church and state, is demanding the quote be taken down, saying it promotes exclusion and violates the First Amendment by “government sponsorship of religious messages.”
“The Columbus County Sheriff’s Office must serve all citizens equally, whether Christian or non-Christian,” foundation president Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a statement on Dec. 14. “A blatantly Christian message in a law enforcement division sends a message of exclusion.”
“This bible verse display promoting Christianity in a sheriff’s office building is correctly viewed by a reasonable observer as an endorsement of religion, and is therefore unconstitutional,” the foundation’s attorney, Chris Line, said.
On Tuesday, Sheriff Jody Greene addressed the demand in a Facebook post. “The verse is one of my favorite Bible verses, and it seemed fitting for all the adversity I have had to endure,” Greene wrote. He said before officers execute a search warrant or “any service that puts our people in immediate harm’s way,” they always pray.
“I was raised in church. I have been in law enforcement for over thirty years. My training taught me to value God, family, and my country,” Greene wrote. “Companies spend thousands of dollars on motivational classes, to come up with motivational slogans. My motivation comes from the greatest motivational speaker of all times, Jesus Christ.”
The sheriff added the quote was paid for with private funds and he intends to keep the quote up.
“I am not scared of much, but I am afraid of burning in hell,” Green wrote. “Let me be clear, I will not waiver on my stance and Christian beliefs.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, the post has received thousands of reactions and comments, mostly thanking Greene and the department for standing for their beliefs.
Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.