Group that demands freedom FROM religion says police chaplains are “unconstitutional”

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MANSFIELD, OH – The Freedom from Religion Foundation is targeting a very specific group of people within a law enforcement agency in Mansfield, Ohio.

The Wisconsin-based atheist group issued a statement on July 22, 2022. And it started with this sentence:

The Mansfield (Ohio) police department needs to get rid of its chaplaincy program at once, advises the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The statement included a link to a letter written to Mansfield’s Chief of Police, Keith Porch.

In that letter, Karen M. Heineman wrote to the chief to compel him as to the “unconstitutionality” of his department’s chaplaincy corps.

Yes, her name is Karen. You can’t make this stuff up.

Karen starts:

“I am writing on behalf of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) to object to the Mansfield Division of Police’s chaplaincy program.

FFRF is a national nonprofit organization with more than 38,000 members, including more than 1,000 members and two chapters in Ohio.

Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.” 

OK Karen, you have stated your purposes on behalf of the mind-boggling 38,000 members you have in your organization, the 1,000 in the state of Ohio and 1 “concerned citizen” from Mansfield.

So let me tell you that my purpose, at least for the amount of time it takes me to write this piece, is to tell you how stupid you and your organization really are.

Your entire premise is built on the fact that you despise the idea of anyone having an opportunity to live in their faith.

You state that 37% of Americans are non-Christian. Prove it.

Have you spoken to all 330 million Americans recently to ask that question (don’t get me started on polling science)? You were able to ascertain that more than 122 million people in this country say that they are not Christian?

First, your group is made up of .0001115% of the US population. So, it would appear that the remaining 99.999885% of this country thinks you need to just hang it up and stop making it your mission to enact something that almost 100 out every 100 people would not align themselves with you.

But since you want to use polls as a basis for legitimacy, allow me to interject with another one.

A Pew study showed that more than one out of every 5 religiously “unaffiliated” (as you called them in your letter) Americans pray every day.

So, what does this mean? It means that the overwhelming majority of Americans not only believe in a supreme being, more than half of them speak to that being daily.

Second, you stated in your letter that “Law enforcement agencies acting in their official capacities may not proselytize or promote religion.”

Can you please provide video of said proselytizing being conducted by any of the chaplains within the Mansfield police department?

Can you identify the number of instances that an officer within the MPD was required to go see the Chaplain?

We can wait while you look for those numbers. It shouldn’t take long, given that the information you would be looking for likely does not exist.

See Karen, your quest to be free from religion should be unique to you.

You should not be looking to “liberate” everyone. Much like you don’t want the government to force you to believe a certain way, neither should be you allowed to use the Establishment clause to restrict others from pursuing their beliefs that are rooted in faith.

You, and the overwhelming number of people who are members of the FFRF, seem to have an issue with the Christian faith.

Looking through the annuls of your press releases, I have not come across a single instance where you wrote a letter to a department because they employed Wiccans, Muslims, Buddhists, or any other non-Christian chaplain.

Your issue is with the God of the Bible and the people who follow him. But even you recognize the reality of who God, and His son Jesus really are.

While you may have done so subconsciously, you referred to the Gospel as a proper noun. You capitalized it. And rightly so.

See, the Gospel is not just the first four books of the New Testament. The Gospel is the personage of Jesus Christ. And you, in your letter to Chief Porch, acknowledged that. So, kudos.

Third, you advocate for certified victim counselors and licensed therapists to replace chaplains, because they can address the needs of all people, unlike chaplains who, according to you can only be of assistance to those who adhere to the same tenants of faith.

So, allow me to ask you a quick question. What if those licensed counselors are also people of faith?

Are they now less capable of providing the necessary level of care?

Transversely, what if they are also “non-theists?” Is it possible that they would then be ill-equipped to handle the trauma of an officer or victim if that individual began to discuss their belief in God and the therapist disputed the reality of a deity?

So, let me see if I understand this. You do not want everyone having access to a chaplain, but you do want everyone to have access to a secular counselor.

Is it your position that it is a violation of the Constitution to provide a voluntary service because they happen to espouse a specific religious viewpoint?

Then it would only stand to reason that it would be an equally egregious violation to remove the ability to have access to that same viewpoint.

I mean, the Establishment clause and all.

You said it yourself.

“There is no reason to think a non-believing employee or crime victim would be comfortable dealing with a person who provides comfort from a religious viewpoint.”

There is also no reason to believe that any employee or crime victim would be comfortable dealing with a person who provides comfort from a “follow this textbook flowchart” viewpoint.

You further went on to say that Christian chaplains cannot simply be people in their attempts to assist a nonbeliever. But nothing could be further from the reality of Christianity.

We do not set aside our faith, as it is definitely part of who we are. But we understand the reality of interacting with people who have different beliefs than we do.

A Christian chaplain is not going to walk into a room, demand everyone to hold hands and force them to partake in a prayer of that chaplain’s choosing.

Chaplains understand how to be sympathetic, compassionate, considerate, kind and benevolent. And while they may offer to pray with an individual or a group of people, they won’t require it.

If they are told no, they move on to the next step in offering assistance.

It is unreasonable to believe that in the history of police chaplaincy, a member of that group has ever been told not to pray, only to tell everyone, “You have no choice, we are praying, and you will participate.”

Finally, I find it really ironic that you go after these smaller entities to push your anti-God agenda. You went after Mansfield become someone complained to you. One individual said something, so now it is time to act.

Surely you were aware of police chaplains before. I guess you just chose to say nothing to the nearly 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the US until now.

Is it because it is only a problem when someone complains, but if no one has an issue with it, no harm no foul?

The only thing consistent about the FFRF is their inconsistency. But at least they understand that the Gospel is a proper noun.

I reached out to Chief Porch, asking if they have officially responded to the letter. Should I receive a response from the MPD, I will provide that as an update to this piece.

Group that demands freedom FROM religion says police chaplains are "unconstitutional"

For more examples of the attack on people of faith being waged by the Freedom From Religion Foundation,

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Sheriff refuses to back down after Atheist group tries to pressure department to remove Bible verse from wall

COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C.- A Bible verse that is painted on the wall of the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) in large black font reads: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me”.

And it has reportedly drawn harsh criticism from the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), an atheist activist group.

According to reports, FFRF representatives said a “concerned citizen” told them that the sheriff’s office has the verse, Philippians 4:13, prominently displayed on the wall.

Now the group is trying to pressure Sheriff Jody Greene into scrubbing the Bible verse from his office wall.

In a December 14th news release, the FFRF said that Greene has an “obligation to provide all citizens with an environment free from religious endorsement by removing this exclusionary display.”

FFRF also hinted at legal action if their demand of removing the scripture is not met.

FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor added in the press release:

“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.”

Greene has responded and very firmly stated that the atheist activist group has sorely underestimated his resolve. On the CCSO’s Facebook page, Greene wrote:

“…First, the Bible verse was placed on the wall after I took office. It was paid for with private funds, not with county funding. 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 harms way, we ALWAYS go to the Lord with a group prayer. ALWAYS!”

He added:

“…Going back to the Bible verse, I have taken many pictures with that Bible verse in the backdrop with not a single issue, but now that we are going into an election year, it is an issue.

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 slogan. My motivation comes from the greatest motivational speaker of all times, Jesus Christ.”

Sheriff Greene wrote:

“…The images shown below from The Freedom from Religion Foundation, mocks Christians’ fear of burning in hell.

According to their Facebook page, they have a contest for the Unabashed Atheist/Nonbeliever of the week … Just look at where our society is headed. It sit time, past time, to stand up. So let me be clear, I will not waiver on my stance and Christian beliefs.”

Chris Lane, a staff attorney for the FFRF responded to the sheriff’s response with disappointment. He said:

“Obviously, that is a very disappointed response. Right on the front page of the Sheriff’s Office’s website, it says, ‘We are dedicated to protecting the innocent and safeguarding lives and property, while always respecting the constitutional rights of others.'”

He added:

“It is a shame that the Sheriff’s Office isn’t willing to live up to that and instead they are choosing to violate their citizens’ constitutional rights by brazenly endorsing Christianity.

The Sheriff’s Office serves all citizens regardless of belief or non-belief, and this display alienates all of Columbus County’s non-Christian residents.”

As far as any possible repercussions for Greene’s office, Line said it is a very real possibility that a lawsuit could be filed. He said:

“We are looking at all of our options at this time.

We will talk with our local complainant and evaluate whether a lawsuit is the best course of action to resolve this constitutional violation, but we are also hopeful that other members of the Columbus County community will come forward, whether it be to speak out about this issue or join in any potential litigation.”

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