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.”
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!”
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.