A letter to Grady Judd about preaching in uniform submitted to Tampa Tribune
"Wouldn’t the world be better if everyone behaved like a Christian?"
In his oath of office, Sheriff Judd swore to defend the constitution of the United States. This would include the first amendment, which states that the government prohibits the making of any law respecting the establishment of religion… This is normally referred to as the establishment clause, which forbids the government from unduly preferring one religion over another, one religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion.
When Sheriff Judd appears in his official uniform, he is representing the government, not Grady Judd private individual. If he wanted to speak to the church, in uniform, about police policy or business, then no one would object. But to be in the pulpit, advocating Christianity, he is obviously in violation of the U.S. constitution. He is flagrantly violating the oath of office he displays proudly on the website of the Polk County Sheriff’s office.
Atheists of Florida urges Sheriff Judd to uphold the duties of his office, to follow the oath to which he swore, and to respect the constitution of the United States.
I submitted the following letter to the Ocala Star Banner in response to an article (http://www.ocala.com/article/20150610/ARTICLES/150619987/0/search) on FFRF contacting the school board concerning state church separation issues.
The article on the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has asked Levy County School Board to investigate a number of potential violations of the Constitution regarding state and church. Atheists of Florida would join in asking the School Board to investigate, and make public its findings, concerning the allegations made by FFRF.
All public employees in Florida are required to sign an oath affirming that they will support the Constitution of the United States. This would include the first amendment, which states that our constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting the establishment of religion… This forbids the government from unduly preferring one religion over another, one religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion.
The Levy county Employee handbook states: “the Obligation to the public requires that the individual a) Shall take reasonable precautions to distinguish between personal views and those of any educational institution or organization with which the individual is affiliated.” The handbook also prohibits discrimination in any form on the basis of race, religion, etc. By promoting religion, an employee is discriminating against students in their classroom that are from other religions or are non-religious.
These conditions of employment require a teacher to not promote religious views in the classroom. This is in violation of their oath to the state and their employment agreement with the school board. This issue should be addressed and if in fact is true, the teachers should be educated as to their obligation as employees and as professionals in the field of education.
If the declaration of “Good Friday” as a school holiday and the invocations which “generally invokes Jesus” are true, these are both violations of the Constitution and should be changed.
Upholding American tradition and public policy in this matter will be well regarded by the citizenship.