South Carolina Troopers to Cease Giving Christian Book to Grieving Families Following Complaint

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Troopers in South Carolina will no longer give a Christian book to residents grieving the loss of a loved one following receipt of a complaint on behalf of an atheist woman who was gifted a copy of the publication.

“We regret that any family member would have misunderstood our intentions or was offended by our effort to offer compassion during such a difficult time,” Sherri Iacobelli, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety, told reporters.

“Since this concern was brought to our attention, we have re-evaluated the ‘A Time to Grieve’ and will no longer send those particular pieces of literature to families following the death of a loved one in a motor-vehicle collision.”

The American Humanist Association (AHA) had sent a letter to the department earlier this month after being contacted by an atheist woman who had received a copy of the book following the death of her father, who died in a car accident.

The book, published by Stephen Ministries, urges readers to look to God in their pain and provides them comfort from the Scriptures.

“Stand still, and whisper God’s name, and listen. He is nearer than you think,” a portion reads.

AHA contends that it is unconstitutional for a government department to distribute material written from a Christian viewpoint.

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“The book has the obvious effect of endorsing theistic religion, and Christianity in particular, and disapproving of atheism, thus violating the Establishment Clause,” its letter read. “To avoid legal action, we ask that you notify us in writing of the steps you will take to rectify this constitutional infringement.”

But Iacobelli said that the books were simply a way to show love to hurting families, some of which had asked for resources to help in their grief.

“Our troopers and officers see firsthand every day the terrible human toll of losing a loved one, and we have compassion for these families,” she told the Grand Haven Tribune. “Through the years, family members have reached out to the department in search of resources following a motor vehicle collision.”

Therefore, in addition to investigating fatal traffic accidents, the department wanted to provide support, and began sending families a sympathy card, a booklet that provides guidance on matters to be tended to following a loss, and the “Time to Grieve” book.

“The books were chosen because they have helpful information about coping with a loss and what to expect from the grieving process especially during that difficult first year,” Iacobelli explained.

Anderson County Coroner Greg Shore advised the Tribune that no complaints had been received up to this point, and to the contrary, most expressed gratitude.

“By far, more people here appreciate it,” he said. “If someone doesn’t want something, I don’t understand why they wouldn’t just throw it in the trash instead of making a complaint.”

However, in light of AHA’s letter, the books will no longer be utilized.

“The First Amendment protects the right of individuals to practice their own religion or practice no religion, and that right should be respected when they are grieving,” AHA’s Roy Speckhardt said in a statement. “We applaud the state’s agreeing to stop using a tragic situation to insensitively push a religious agenda.”

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  • Joshua 1:9

    It is interesting that South Carolina troopers now seem to take their orders from an atheist. It is a good thing for the world that Jesus didn’t do the same.

    • Mike

      The Trooper was right to want to help but as a representative of the government he cannot hand out religious based material, its against the law. How would you feel if he was handing out Islamic based pamphlets instead?

      • Joshua 1:9

        First of all, if he had been a Muslim handing out Islamic material then this would not even be an issue. He would be given the green light. As a Christian he CAN hand out religious based material. If you are a Christian cop you should be a Christian first, and a cop second.

        • Mike

          Atheist including the FFRF have opposed Islamic law breakers as well but in this country there are thousands of Christian violation for each Muslim one due to the fact that there are vastly more Christians… Its quite easy to look this information up, the FFRF website has a listing of all violations that they have been involved in. Sorry, your impressions are not backup by facts.

          As far as a Christian Cop being a Christian first cop second… Fine, but as a government official he is not legally allowed to distribute religious material while on duty and in uniform. That is the LAW and its a good law as it prevents infringement on other groups who’s rights are equal to that of the officer.

          This is not an attack on Christianity or religion in general, just an enforcement of the law as it stands.

        • james blue

          You didn’t answer the question asked.

          How would you feel if he was handing out Islamic based pamphlets instead?

          Would you be okay with it, or would you object?

          • Joshua 1:9

            James Blue, you either believe that I am a communist, and therefore, do not believe in freedom of religion, or you are against freedom of religion. I believe that we all have freewill. God gave that to us. If a Muslim wishes to offer a Muslim pamphlet out of compassion then they are certainly free to do so. I would thank them for the gesture, but would not read the pamphlet. And the reason is because I have studied the quran and have had lengthy discussions with several Muslims to know what they believe, especially when it comes to the afterlife. And as a born again Christian, I strongly disagree. However, as I had mentioned, I believe in the freewill that God has granted us, and the fact that in this country we do still supposedly have freedom of religion. Whether you agree with that or not, it is true.

          • Joshua 1:9

            What I would do, however, is use that as an opportunity to share the truth about Jesus. And if that Muslim were to turn away then I would go my way as well, but pray for them.

          • james blue

            I have to ask why the need to build up the persecution complex when you were asked a simple question?

            All you needed to do is say you’d have no problem and you are happy for Muslim cops to hand out Islamic literature.

          • Joshua 1:9

            Which part are you referring to when you claim I have a “persecution complex”? I went back to re-read what my response was to Mike, and to be honest, I did not see anywhere that would have led anyone to see what you are saying. If you are referring to me refusing to read the Muslim pamphlet then that too is incorrect, because for me to read that would be humoring the Muslim, which would be dishonest. So, even that would not be considered persecuting anyone. Please explain who I was persecuting and how.

          • james blue

            Quote— “you either believe that I am a communist, and therefore, do not believe in freedom of religion, or you are against freedom of religion.” — endquote.

          • Joshua 1:9

            Are you always this much of an instigator, or just something new you’re trying out? My point was that it was a silly question. If you would have read the rest of that particular comment then you would have understood my whole point instead of doing what the majority of people do online, when intently picking apart someone’s comment.

          • james blue

            I did read the entire comment, I do not assume to know what’s in anyone’s head, What you wrote is in no way unambiguous so I ask questions for clarification.

            You could have given a simple answer, but instead chose to accuse me of instigation.

            All I did was ask you questions. Apparently that’s a form of instigation and persecution in your world and if that’s how you see simple questions you are always going to feel persecuted.

            c’est la vie

      • Roy Hobs

        “…How would you feel if he was handing out Islamic based pamphlets instead?…”
        I’d say ‘thank you’ and then throw it away. In college I was forced to study Islam. I didn’t ‘complain’ about it. I did it. Then rejected it.

    • Jay Dee

      Jesus said however, in Matthew 5: 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

      Doesn’t this mean that one should follow the law? Not to mention sacrificing public funds in penalties for a fruitless stand in a clearly illegal cause?

      Paul was also very clear on this subject in a number of instances, such as from the book of Romans: Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

      • Joshua 1:9

        I do understand your point. However, some could say there is a flip side to that coin. For example, when Daniel was told of a “new law” that it is punishable to pray to God or anyone else other than the king. Daniel still prayed because he disagreed with that law. He was then placed into the lion’s den. In there, he continued to break the law by praying and worshipping God. God sent his angels to shut the mouths of the lions because he found strong faith and devotion in his servant Daniel. Daniel was then set free and rewarded. And the king then said that it will be against the law for anyone to come against “Daniel’s God”.

  • mj58

    They’re always claiming that science is better than religion. So what do they do for someone who is grieving – read to them from a chemistry textbook?

    The biggest problem with atheists is, they have no hearts. It’s a cold ideology for cold people, and the historical records proves it.

    • Amos Moses

      it is a dead ideology for the walking dead ………………….

    • Mike

      Two things, there are probably thousands of non-religious books about handling grief so your comment on Chemistry books is just ridiculous. And second, the Atheist group was not at all opposed to handing out pamphlets about handling grief as long as they were not religious themed which was the legal violation.

      Claiming that Atheists are cool heartless people is just false, besides grouping Atheists together as a group isn’t accurate. The only thing thing atheist means is that they don’t believe in god, besides that they could have any number of beliefs. You don’t group people together by what they don’t believe, its what they believe that matters…

      • mj58

        I don’t waste my valuable time on trolls.
        If you’re lonely, get a dog.

        • james blue

          Either you lack empathy or you are trying to suppress it, because you appear to refuse to experience things or people that may challenge your views.

        • Roy Hobs

          These liberals/atheists forget they are on a CHRISTIAN SITE. So therefore, they are the definition of a troll.

          If I were to comment at the Huffington Post, I would be trolling.

          • Jay Dee

            The writer says “atheist”, it turns up on my Google atheist news feed, I come. Talk to Google or the writer about it

          • 0pus

            In other words, you atheists have no life to speak of.

            Other than hate, you got nothing.

          • Roy Hobs

            I don’t care that you are here. Just making the observation. I don’t have any interest in commenting at the Huffington Post. Because I am not a parasite.

          • Mike

            So you are defending someone who’s response to my post was “Fk off, you dumb fggot troll.” when absolutely nothing I said warranted such a response?

            If you have a problem with something I posted then say so and we can have a discussion about it. I have not said anything hateful or anti-Christian, David Stoneslinger and you by backing him are the ones at fault here.

            Like you said this is a Christian Site, and that is a very unchristian statement that you just defended.

      • Sharon_at_home

        There are also non Christians who have to grieve so taking the books away because they are religious is just not right. Make more books and give the people the one they want, their choice!

        • Mike

          Not sure about the legality of that solution but it sounds reasonable to me. Have a small collection of grief books covering the most common religions and a couple generic secular version and let any individual select one if they choose.

  • NCOriolesFan

    Proof now that atheists only know hate when trying to be helped by society after the loss of loved one. I would at least had the decency to say thank you instead of complaining about a religious book given to me. Sad, they really need prayers to lighten their dark hearts.

    • james blue

      So it’s more important that the grieving person thanks you than you being sympathetic to the views of the grieving person?

    • Jay Dee

      Maybe they said thank you, how do you know? One could recognize the good intention, and at the same report a government agency for taking an unconstitutional action. Two separate issues.

  • Jay Dee

    The government doesn’t get to do this, get over it. Our Founding Fathers were wise when they established a clear division between religion and government.

  • Denny

    FFRF are bigoted scum.

  • Upsetti Spaghetti

    Thank God for the FFRF

  • Robert

    I Guess a officer will just come and say your so and so is dead.the morgue.has your so and so. By have a nice day

  • Representative

    I agree @disqus_Puck0i2MeG:disqus …. seems like these atheists continue to bully everyone that doesn’t express themselves the way these so-called “atheists” think they should. I say don’t stop giving out the books and let the jerk take it to the Supreme Court first.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Grieving families need Christian message for salvation and comfort. State should not submit to atheists. Atheists do not understand human grief because they worship self.

    • Bezukhov

      When a cop passes out such pamphlets the message is clear. “Believe this or else”

      • Ken

        Stupidest thing I ever read.

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        Police officers should give out the copies of the Holy Bible and Christian books to Americans as much as they can for their own safety. You guys must be ashamed of making an amoral dangerous nation for police officers to survive. Americans are not blood-related. If Americans don’t hold onto the same Good Thing( Christianity), no one can protect anyone effectively.

      • Sharon_at_home

        Bull! No one is telling anyone that they “have” to believe what the pamphlets say; Most people question what the police say and do now, so it can’t be “Believe this or else.” just because they are passed out by the poor police officer assigned to tell the family of the passing of a loved one. All it says is that the police want to help with their grieving.
        Atheists seem to be nitpicking things that don’t really bother them, it’s just that it’s religious that they need to go after them.
        Do they read all the articles in a magazine? Do they look the other way when a ladies dress flies up because of the wind? Then why can’t they ‘look the other way’ when it’s something they don’t agree with?
        People used to be able to turn away when it was something they didn’t agree with and still go on with their lives.
        I think removing Christian things (like crosses) is being discriminating against Christians. It’s ironic that all things Christian are being discriminated against, but we aren’t allowed to discriminate when dealing with anyone that goes against our beliefs. They want it their way and no one else is supposed to have their rights stand against them.

        • Bezukhov

          People with guns, handing out religious pamphlets? The optics aren’t right.

          • Sharon_at_home

            I’m sorry, I didn’t read that the police point their guns at people who are grieving and being given something to help with it. (sarcasm)
            Just because the police officer carried a gun (part of his uniform) doesn’t mean they would take the pamphlet without complaint.

  • Emmanuel

    Atheists, can you show us the alternative? your message or your booklet for a grieving family

    • Grace Kim Kwon

      It’s nothingness. American atheists should immigrate to North Korea their own perfect utopia. USA is a Christian nation created by Christians for Christian happiness.

  • Jason Todd

    1) The atheist who whined more than likely did so because they didn’t want to be reminded their loved one was almost certainly in hell.

    2) This reminds me of the jerk who had a cow over the fact some kids from a public school would be sending a shoebox of necessities and niceties to other kids in a foreign land because a verse of scripture would be included. Anyone who would get in the way of an act of kindness over something so pointless and juvenile needs to be separated from a civilized society until they learn the concept and meaning of compassion.

  • Sharon_at_home

    Can anyone explain to me why they couldn’t make up more than one book about grieving and let them choose the one they want? In Canada we have some things in print that have over 80 languages; surely you could help all people grieving rather than NONE getting the help they need.