A North Carolina sheriff rejected the call of atheist organization Freedom From Religion Foundation to remove the Bible verse from his office's wall. He reportedly did so, saying, "we need more Jesus."
The Christian Headlines said Columbus County Sheriff Jody Greene was sent a letter by Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) on December 6 to remove the verse, "I can do all things through Christ which strenghtheneth me," taken from Philippians 4:13, from his office's wall claiming it as a violation of the United States Constitution.
The letter, which has an online counterpart, cites the verse that is displayed on the wall in black letters and this, the atheist group said, is prohibited by the Establishment Clause.
"The Establishment Clause prohibits government sponsorship of religious messages. The Supreme Court has said time and again that the 'First Amendment mandates government neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion," the Freedom From Religion Foundation said in the letter.
The group, who describe themselves as "atheists, agnostics, and skeptics of any pedigree," also claimed that the biblical verse "alienates" those who are not religious.
FFRF's plea, featured by WECT News 6, prompted Greene to respond through social media to clarify his name and his stand regarding the matter. Greene said in his Facebook post that the verse, which happened to be his favorite from the Bible, is found by those who see it as encouraging and inspiring--contrary to what the group claims it to be.
"The verse is one of my favorite Bible verses, and it seemed fitting for all the adversity I have had to endure. It is very motivational to me and my staff. Here at the Sheriff's Office, we work hard in everything that we do. Before we execute a search warrant, or any service that puts our people in immediate harm's way, we ALWAYS go to the Lord with a group prayer. ALWAYS!" Greene announced on December 21.
Greene also pointed out the that the bible verse was placed on the wall using private funds after he became the sheriff. He called the matter a "political ploy" considering the elections are coming up and this was the first time this happened to him, despite having taken numerous photos with the verse as the background in the past.
"How absurd! It seems to me we have a few sheep in wolves clothing. That's all. This is a political ploy. Some want a person that they can control. 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," Greene raised.
Greene also said that besides being raised in church, his three decades of experience and training in law enforcement has taught him "to value God, family, and my country." He cited the verse's timeliness in the face of increasing incidents of violence in the county where there are 180 incidents of drug overdoses killing the youth.
In addition, Greene also highlighted in his post an image of the FFRF contest for the "Unabashed Atheist/Nonbeliever of the Week" that shows the winner behind the "silhouette of the devil and flames." The image includes the text, "not afraid of burning in hell." He said this all the more gives reason to keep the biblical verse on the wall for "look at where our society is headed."
"We need more Jesus and less politics," Greene stressed.
"It is time, past time, to stand up. So let me be clear, I will not waiver on my stance and Christian beliefs," he underscored.