North Carolina sheriff under pressure to remove Bible quote from office

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Photos posted on the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page show the Bible quote on the wall.

Screenshot of the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page

A Bible quote painted in the lobby of a North Carolina law enforcement agency has sparked a very public feud between a Christian county sheriff and the National Freedom from Religion Foundation.

The foundation demands that the New Testament quote be removed and suggests that legal action may follow.

The Columbus County Sheriff posted an equally pointed statement on Facebook saying he intended to stay.

“I’m not scared of much, but I’m scared of burning in hell,” Sheriff Jody Greene said in the post.

“The Freedom from Religion Foundation pokes fun at Christians’ fear of burning in hell. According to their Facebook page, they have a contest for the Shameless Atheist / Unbeliever of the Week. … It is high time to get up. So let me be clear, I will not (waver) on my Christian stance and beliefs.

Philippians 4:13 is at the center of the controversy: “I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me. ”

Foundation officials said “a concerned citizen” informed them that Greene had posted the quote prominently in his Whiteville office. The city is approximately 115 miles south of downtown Raleigh.

Greene has “an obligation to provide all citizens with an environment free from religious endorsement by removing this exclusionary display,” foundation officials said in a Dec. 14 press release.

“The Columbus County Sheriff’s Office must serve all citizens equally, whether Christians or not,” FFRF co-chair Annie Laurie Gaylor said in the statement. “An overtly Christian message to a law enforcement division sends a message of exclusion.”

Foundation attorney Chris Line said it was also a government agency “appearing to take a stand on issues of religious belief,” which is against the law.

“This display of Bible verses promoting Christianity in a sheriff’s office building is properly viewed by a reasonable observer as an endorsement of religion, and is therefore unconstitutional,” Line said in the statement.

Greene’s Facebook post did not dispute this observation. He took full responsibility for the quote, noting that it had been hung on the wall after taking office, using private funds.

The quote is meant to be motivational, he wrote, and is part of an office atmosphere that encourages prayer “before executing a search warrant or any service that puts our people in immediate danger.”

“I’ve taken many photos with this bible verse as a backdrop without a single problem, but now that we enter an election year, it’s a problem,” Greene wrote.

” What nonsense ! … It’s a political ploy. Some want someone they can control. Businesses spend thousands of dollars on motivational training, to deliver motivational slogans. My motivation comes from the greatest motivational speaker of all time, Jesus Christ.

Greene’s post elicited over 1,600 reactions and comments in three hours, with many supporters urging him to “stay strong.”

This story was originally published 21 December 2021 6:50 pm.

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering topics such as schools, crime, immigration, LGBTQ issues, homelessness, and non-profit organizations. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.


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