Facebook Page Subject of Atheist Complaint Resumes Posting Christian Statuses After Confusion Cleared

InternetJONESBORO, Ark. — A Facebook page that was the subject of a complaint from a prominent atheist activist organization has resumed posting Christian statuses after it was realized that the atheist group mistook the page as being run by the city when it actually was the personal page of a city employee.

As previously reported, in response to an anonymous complaint, the Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter to Jonesboro, Arkansas Mayor Harrold Perrin, declaring that whoever is posting religious references on the “Dispatch Jonesboro” page must cease.

The page had featured a number of Christian-related posts, such as “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. Have a great day!” and “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.”

“It is inappropriate for Dispatch Jonesboro to indicate a preference for Christianity and religion by quoting the Christian Bible, posting prayers, and sharing postings asking people to pray on the official dispatcher Facebook page,” the correspondence read. “This proselytizing message gives the appearance of government endorsement of Christianity. It also conflicts with personal religious and nonreligious views of many city residents and employees.”

The letter further asserted that posting the Scriptures and other saying alienated residents of other religions and sends the message that non-Christians are “outsiders.”

“To avoid further Establishment Clause concerns, the administrator of the Dispatch Jonesboro Facebook page must refrain from posting religious materials,” it contended.

In response to the correspondence, Mayor Perrin consulted with the city attorney, who advised that the posts should come down. Perrin then directed the deletion of the Facebook statuses at issue while the matter was further investigated.

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However, it was soon learned that the page did not belong to the city, but rather E911 director Jeff Presley, and was used as his personal Facebook page.

“At the time of the posts, the presentation of the page strongly implied that it was operated and directed by the City administration,” Fritz Gisler, director of Communications for the City of Jonesboro, acknowledged to the Christian Post this week. “This implication was quite obvious considering the amount of feedback we received regarding the removal of the posts, most of which blamed the mayor and the City administration for the removal.”

“The mayor requested Mr. Presley to remove the posts before we determined the page did not, in fact, belong to the city,” he continued. “As a city employee, Mr. Presley complied with the mayor’s request. Subsequently, we determined the page belongs to Mr. Presley personally, and he is free to post on that page what he chooses.”

The page has now been renamed “Presley Dispatch” to avoid any confusion and Presley has resumed including Christian-based links and sayings on his Facebook, since he is the owner and not the city.

The actual government-run Facebook page is called Jonesboro E911, and is a business page, as opposed to Presley’s page, which allowed for friend requests and included personal information about the user.

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