Jody Greene: NC sheriff won't take down Bible verse that violates First Amendment
Columbus County Sheriff Jody Greene says he is afraid of burning in hell if he removes the verse from his office
A North Carolina sheriff has refused to remove a Bible verse from a wall in his office that a nonprofit says is in violation of the First Amendment. Columbus County Sheriff's Office has a Bible verse that reads, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13", in one of its hallways. But after Freedom of Religion Foundation requested Sheriff Jody Greene to remove the quote, he refused to so.
The quote can be seen in many photos shared by the sheriff's office on their Facebook page.
Freedom from Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit group that promotes the separation of church from the state. The nonprofit says the quote on the wall of the sheriff's office is a direct violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits any government agency from establishing an official religion and prohibits government actions that favor one religion over another, according to Cornell Law School.
The president of the foundation, Annie Laurie Gaylor, gave a statement on December 14 and said, "The Columbus County Sheriff's Office must serve all citizens equally, whether Christian or non-Christian. A blatantly Christian message in a law enforcement division sends a message of exclusion."
An attorney for the foundation, Chris Line, said, "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." Sixty five percent of Americans say they are Christians and around 26% are non-religious, according to Pew Research.
Sheriff Greene shared the demand in a Facebook post on Tuesday and wrote, "The verse is one of my favorite Bible verses, and it seemed fitting for all the adversity I have had to endure."
Further, he also shared that before the officers execute a search warrant or "any service that puts our people in immediate harm's way", they always pray.
Greene also added, "I was raised in the church. I have been in law enforcement for over thirty years. My training taught me to value god, family and my country. 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."
He said that he intends to keep the quote up and that the quote was paid for with private funds. He added, "I am not scared of much, but I am afraid of burning in hell. Let me be clear, I will not waiver on my stance and Christian beliefs."
As of Wednesday night, there has not been any update from the sheriff's office on Facebook or any other social media platform.