Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana Removes Facebook Posts Citing Scripture Following Complaint

Photo Credit: Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office/Facebook

FRANKLINTON, La. — A sheriff’s office in Louisiana has removed a number of Facebook posts citing Scripture or referencing Christianity in general after one of the nation’s most conspicuous atheist activist organizations asserted that the posts were unconstitutional.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter last year to Randy Seal, the sheriff of Washington Parish, after a “concerned local resident” contacted the organization to advise that Seal had been posting Scripture on the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

“The biblical command to love one’s mother is not a suggestion. It is a commandment that requires unconditional love for our parents,” a June 1, 2017 post read in part.

“Greater love hath no man that than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” Seal wrote on May 29, 2016, quoting from John 15:13.

“God did not create people to be murdered by each other. He created us in sacredness of each life that senseless violence against persons will cease. The only hope society has is the blessed hope given to us by God through His Son,” he also stated on September 14, 2015 in speaking about a prayer service that he held for Louisiana law enforcement following the deaths of nine officers. Seal quoted from Psalm 145:18, Philippians 4:6 and 2 Chronicles 7:14.

FFRF claimed that Seal was not permitted under the Constitution to publish such posts because “they endorse religion over non-religion and Christianity over all other faiths.”

“Posting religious images and messages give the appearance that the sheriff’s department endorses both religion in general, and Christianity in particular,” the letter read. “… Your statements, and the posts promoting Christianity on the WPSO’s social media page, fail to respect the Constitution’s mandate of neutrality.”

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It also took issue with Seal’s participation in the cited prayer gathering, stating that he was alienating atheists and agnostics in the community and turning them into “political outsiders.”

“Hosting a prayer ceremony, and promoting your personal religion on the department’s Facebook page convey a message to non-Christians that they are not ‘favored members of the political community,'” FFRF wrote. “… To avoid further Establishment Clause concerns, all religious posts must be removed from WPSO social media pages immediately, and the WPSD must refrain from promoting religion in the future.”

On Thursday, the atheist activist organization posted a news release advising that it had been informed by the legal counsel for the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Department that the posts at issue had been deleted. Seal also personally released a statement about the matter on Saturday.

“Based on sound legal advice and being mindful of the possibility of a long and expensive legal fight, I directed that all Bible verses be removed from the official Facebook pages of the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office,” he wrote, advising that the department could not afford the cost of defending itself should FFRF file a lawsuit.

Seal lamented that FFRF has been causing organizations nationwide to “cave for fear” of having to pay legal expenses due to a “frivolous lawsuit,” noting some of the legal challenges that FFRF and other similar organizations have filed.

“The Freedom from Religion Foundation continues to attack and threaten small towns and average Americans for exercising their constitutional freedoms,” he wrote, later concluding, “It is an honor to serve as your sheriff. My belief that Jesus is my Lord and Savior has not changed!”

Read the post in full here.

President John Adams

As previously reported, John Adams, the second president of the United States, wrote in his diary on Feb. 22, 1756, “Suppose a nation in some distant region, should take the Bible for their only law book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. Every member would be obliged in conscience to temperance and frugality and industry, to justice and kindness and charity towards his fellow men, and to piety and love, and reverence towards almighty God.”

“In this Commonwealth, no man would impair his health by gluttony, drunkenness or lust—no man would sacrifice his most precious time to cards, or any other trifling and mean amusement—no man would steal or lie or any way defraud his neighbour, but would live in peace and goodwill with all men. No man would blaspheme his Maker or profane his worship, but a rational and manly, a sincere and unaffected piety and devotion, would reign in all hearts.”

“What a Eutopia, what a paradise would this region be,” Adams declared.

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  • Vince

    If you think atheists complain a lot now, wait till the Last Judgment.

    I guess they’re getting in lots of practice with the weeping and gnashing of teeth. That’s no wait for people to live. “I complain, therefore, I am.”

    • NCOriolesFan

      No appeal, only conviction.

  • LadyInChrist♥ThankYouJesus

    🙁 More proof what the Bible said would happen is happening now.
    The time of Christ return draws near.

    • Quince

      Do you expect people to believe Christians are being persecuted because they are expected to follow the Constitution just like everyone else?

      • LadyInChrist♥ThankYouJesus

        I have added you to my prayer list.

        • Enniscorthy

          That was a very good question. I wonder why you ignored it.

  • Nedd Kareiva

    It’s the same line over & over, “a concerned citizen”. It’s past time FFRF be called on their likely bluff. The moment some public official does and stands his or her ground may well be the moment these godless scumbags see their agenda fall like dominoes as it will have been proven that FFRF was acting on its own and not truly representative of someone else (thus a phantom plaintiff).

    • MarkSebree

      People do try to call the FFRF’s “bluff”. They are sued in most cases, and they lose their cases. If they appeal, they then lose again in the appeal’s court. Some even continue to repeat this cycle. Every iteration of this cycle increases the cost of the suit, as well as the cumulative cost. After they lose the suit a final time, they are then sued by the FFRF to recoup the legal costs if the last judgement against the defendant did not include an award of legal costs in the judgement. They usually lose that suit as well, and they pay tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars to the FFRF to repay they their legal costs.

      It is the FFRF’s record of winning these cases, as well as the case law that they cite in their complaints letters to the offender which cause the offender’s lawyers to advise against continuing the action described in the letter.

  • Reason2012

    And teaching kids about islam in more and more public schools (google public school islam) while censoring Christianity in those same schools is “endorsing islam over all other belief systems”, but FFRF is just fine with that, which exposes them as anti-Christian pro-islam activists pretending to be atheists and pretending to care about the Constitution to censor Christianity while islam is being pushed more and more.

    • MarkSebree

      The FFRF has sued schools over favorably treatment of Muslims. You also need to check about how the religion was presented to the students.

      For starters, most of the children in the USA know a lot about the Christian religion, while they know almost nothing about Islam. Therefore, a public school class is encouraged and recommended to help close that gap. Also, Islam is usually taught as part of a comprehensive world religions class, rather than on its own. That means that there are different segments devoted to different religions, like Buddhism, Hinduism, and others. And the classes do not promote Islam in such a way as to encourage the students to convert to it.

      On the other hand, in the USA, when Christianity is being taught in a public school, it is usually not part of any larger class. It is usually proselytized to the students, encouraging them to convert to that religion, and highlighting those students who are not christian or not the “right type of christian”. Teachers, coaches, and administrators tend to show favoritism towards some evangelical version of christianity, using their governmental position of power over young children that are required to be there to covertly or overtly try to convert them.

      Often, it is a Christian that complains about this treatment of their children, and they wish to remain anonymous about it to protect themselves, their children, and their homes from the inevitable hatred, lies, ostracizing, harassment, and death threats that christians are justly known for in these circumstances.

      Despite your blinders to reality and reason, the FFRF is not anti-Christianity, pro-Islam, pretending to be atheists, pretending to care about the Constitution, nor trying to censor Christianity. Those are all lies that right-wing pundits, dominionists, and recontructionists have fed you in their quest to dismantle the US Constitution and replace the USA with a country which is a theonomy or theocracy, and religious freedom being a thing of the past.

  • Quince

    This sounds reasonable. Exactly what did FFRF say that was incorrect?

    “Posting religious images and messages give the appearance that the sheriff’s department endorses both religion in general, and Christianity in particular.” – Check

    “Your statements, and the posts promoting Christianity on the WPSO’s social media page, fail to respect the Constitution’s mandate of neutrality.” – Check

    The Sheriff promoted his personal religious beliefs on the Sheriff Dept website.

    Who gets to use their employer’s facebook page to talk about their own religious beliefs?

    And what is so odd about taxpayers expecting the government to obey the Constitution?

    • meamsane

      When only 26% of the American public can even name the 3 branch’s of government, why would their be an “expectation” by the taxpayer for the government to obey a document that they, the taxpayer knows nothing about?

      • Quince

        The Constitution

  • TheSayer

    Atheists are a pretty weird bunch and have zero logic. Religion to them is belief in non existing deities so if some one qoutes from a non existing being why are they getting so worked up with. I just wonder if they will do the same if let’s say one qoutes from a super hero comic (since a large chunk of the heroes are psuedo gods).Truth of the matter is they just hate the living God.

    • Amos Moses – He>i

      “God does not exist, and I hate him” ………….

      • Enniscorthy

        That’s actually a VERY good illustration of the nonsensical ideas many Christians have about atheists.

        • Amos Moses – He>i

          that is what the A-theist says in his or her own confusion …….. “God does not exist” and then when you query them further ….. they will point out this bit of scripture and that bit of scripture ….. and then they will say …… ” I could never worship a god that does that” ….. so they are the nonsensical and obtuse ones in their own futile minds ….. AND ….. this is what SCRIPTURE says about their minds …… FUTILE ……….. so it all comes down to just that …… “God does not exist, and I hate him” ………..

          • Enniscorthy

            So very many problems with this, first of all, you don’t know the heart of atheists, not even a single one, so it’s not for you to say any of them are confused. When someone says ” I could never worship a God that does this or that” it doesn’t necessarily mean that they believe deep down but choose not to because of what they perceived to be cruel practices by God, it also means that IF THEY DID BELIEVE they would not worship such a God.

            “God does not exist and I hate him” is a nonsensical statement. You cannot hate what you do not believe exists.

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            GOD knows the heart of a-theists and has said what they deny in their hearts in scripture ……… so that ends that ……… unless you want to call God a liar ………..

          • Enniscorthy

            First of all, what is an “a-theist” – if you mean atheist, then say it, because it’s not a bad word. Secondly it’s impossible to call God a liar, but I can certainly call YOU one.

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            Psa 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

            Psa 53:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.

          • Enniscorthy

            Maybe they can’t believe because their brains won’t let them, because the leap of faith necessary can’t be completed because it’s illogical. I don’t call that person a fool. Is proof too much to ask of someone?

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            nope ….. scripture says why they cannot ……. because to believe God REQUIRES God to grant that …….. “Is proof too much to ask of someone?” …. you would have to ask God ….. but God has already answered that ………. the evidence has already been shown ….. “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.” ……………

            1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
            1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
            1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
            1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
            1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

          • Enniscorthy

            Well, if I want the answer as to why they don’t believe, I’ll ask them. I’m not going to refer to scripture for that, because it’s not going to tell me, and they are.

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            and men are liars …… but if you do not want the truth …. then yes …. you should not ask the one who has never lied …. GOD and Christ ………..

          • Enniscorthy

            What does it gain a man to lie when asked for his opinion?

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            to make himself look good to others when he or she AINT ………

          • Enniscorthy

            That makes no sense, when you’re asked for your opinion why assume you want to make yourself look good to anyone? I give my opinion when it’s requested, and if people don’t like it, it’s their problem.

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            “First of all, what is an “a-theist” -”

            objection as to form noted …… I DO NOT CARE ………………..

          • Enniscorthy

            No point in continuing then. Fine with me.

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            bye …. see ya ….. would not want to be ya ………..

          • Enniscorthy

            As a not-so-wise man once said (repeatedly): “right back atcha”

          • Amos Moses – He>i

            sure …. whatever ……….. SPORT ………..

    • Quince

      How can you compare the sincere religious beliefs of christians to a comic book?

      As I recall, Jesus commanded against praying in public and condemned pharisees who flaunted their righteousness.

      When did the FFRF ever criticize christians for exercising their religious beliefs on their own time and dime? (That would be never.)

      So how in the world can people claim that expecting people to refrain from using government property and resources to broadcast their personal religious beliefs equals hatred of any deity?

      Most christians are respectful. Most christians to not act like they are entitled to use the government to promote religion. There is nothing wrong, or anti christian, about calling out the few who violate both Jesus’ commands and the rules that govern our secular society.

  • Amos Moses – He>i

    In the name of eliminating all discrimination, University of Iowa discriminates against Christian student group

    • meamsane

      Oh! The Irony!

  • Faithwalker

    The towns that don’t have a budget to fight these lawsuits, this is just a thought. If every pastor who has a mega ministry would donate a portion of their proceeds from their book sales and speaking frees to help fight the war against removing God from the public domain would greatly equip the soldiers for the spiritual battle.

    • MarkSebree

      Those same megachurch pastors probably know, or have lawyers that know, that if they did that, they would just enrich the organizations that they hate when their dupes lose their lawsuits and have to pay the plaintiffs’ lawyer fees.

      Your deity is not being removed from the “public domain”. It is just being kept out of the government where it does not belong anyway. The First Amendment, as expanded by the 14th Amendment, prohibits the government at any level from endorsing, promoting, supporting, or disparaging any religion. That means that someone that follows a different interpretation of your deity than you do cannot use their government position to push their religion onto you and discriminate against you according to their beliefs, just as a Hindu cannot do, just as a Buddhist cannot do, just as a Wiccan cannot do, just as any other religion cannot do.

  • Guzzman

    The sheriff’s office is a government entity. Government has no grant of authority to weigh in on religious matters. When an agent of government is acting in an official capacity, that person IS government and does not have the authority to speak for the government on religious matters and cannot lawfully use his position to promote his religious beliefs.

    Abusing government authority in such a manner is prohibited by law: Board of Education v. Mergens, 496 U.S. 226 (1990): “There is a crucial difference between government speech endorsing religion, which the Establishment Clause FORBIDS, and private speech endorsing religion, which the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses protect.”

  • fishing4truth

    This is very weak in my opinion; the Muslims are using our legal system against us and now this need to be politically correct so as not to offend anyone. That is bunk! Anyone with enough backbone to stand for what they believe in will offend someone, regardless of the issue at hand. I say stand up for what you believe in, for what’s near and dear to your heart, and let other’s worry about their feelings. Trying to manage other’s feelings is a sure sign of codependency and our society has been codependent for way too long.

  • Michele

    Livingston Parish Sheriffs Office has the bible verse numbers….. 13:4 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” on its Sheriff vehicles and I do not think they would cave at the threat of being told to remove it. Washington Parish should not have had to remove the verses either from their internet page. The messages are those that instill good moral values and are not harming anyone nor causing pain to anyone. The messages if adhered to could only bring about great change in the world for the better. The people of the world need to learn to live and let live!

  • John O

    at least now we know freedom of speech doesn’t apply to everybody. when i turned 65 my son gave me a copy of the book “1984”. i told him i wasn’t supposed to read it when i was young. didn’t know it was a prophecy.