Columbus County Sheriff Jody Greene, who oversees the county’s 54,000 residents in North Carolina, has come under fire from the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) for displaying a Bible verse on the wall of the Sheriff’s Office.
The Bible verse Greene has displayed on the wall is Philippians 4:13, which says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
In a letter from FFRF on December 6, 2021, FFRF staff attorney Christopher Line expressed that this is the second time in less than a year that the FFRF has found a “constitutional violation” within the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office. The first, reported on January 26, 2021, was in regard to the Sheriff’s Office “promoting Christianity on its official Facebook page.”
According to Line, the sheriff never replied to the complaint, and the FFRF is still awaiting a response for the Sheriff’s Office posting “Merry Christmas to all and happy birthday to our Lord and Savior” to their Facebook page in 2020.
“A concerned Columbus County resident has reported that the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office has a large Bible verse display in its building,” Line’s letter reads. “Our complainant reports that the Sheriff’s Office displays ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13‘ on the walls in one of its hallways. We write to ask that the Sheriff’s Office remove this religious sign from its property in recognition that it represents an unconstitutional endorsement of Christianity.”
Line says that the Bible verse on the wall alienates 24 percent of Americans who are non-religious, urging the Sheriff’s Office to “recognize its obligation to provide all citizens with an environment free from religious endorsement by removing this exclusionary display.” Line also asked them to stop promoting Christianity on their Facebook page.
Greene responded on the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page after local news affiliate WECT News 6 ran a report detailing the complaint, sharing that he believes the attack regarding the Bible verse is political, given that 2022 is an election year.
The Sheriff clarified that the Bible verse was place on the wall after he took office and was paid for with private funds, saying, “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.”
Greene shared that prayer is something he and his deputies practice regularly in the office, saying, “Before we execute a search warrant, or any service that puts our people in immediate harms way, (sic) we ALWAYS go to the Lord with a group prayer. ALWAYS!”