In Polk County Florida, Sheriff Grady Judd was invited to speak at a local Baptist church and becomes a target for the atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). Why? Because he wore his uniform when he delivered his speech.
I suspect it also had something to do with the the fact that he’s a Christian… oh, and the title of his message:
“Wouldn’t the world be better if everyone behaved like a Christian?”
While I happen to agree with him, I’d imagine if he had been invited to speak at the local synagogue, his message might have been similarly titled:
“Wouldn’t the world be better if everyone behaved like a Jew?”
The FFRF says they received 5 complaints about his appearance at the church’s pulpit in uniform. In the letter to the Sheriff they state:
“Promoting your personal religion using a Polk County government title and uniform gives the unfortunate impression that the county supports and endorses the First Baptist Church on the Mall and its religious teachings.”
Maybe it gives that impression to the weak-minded, easily-offended folks over at the FFRF, but most rational humans realize that not everyone believes the same thing, not even the Sheriff. He is one man who happens to believe that way. And he’s entitled to the free exercise of that belief… even in uniform.
By the FFRF’s logic… if one man wearing the sheriff’s (government) uniform speaking at a church somehow promotes that religion for the WHOLE sheriff’s department… then every sheriff is responsible for the actions of every other sheriff. Because if one person says it, does it, promotes it… then that represents the WHOLE department. The same would go for any person in a military uniform… and that’s just ridiculous! They are each individuals. The one thing they have in common is upholding the law. All the rest is individual action.
Now they claim, if he had just given the speech in plain clothes, there would have been no issue. But that’s not true. When you listen to the content of his speeches, he believes that Christianity is the answer to societies problems. He believes in faith-based programs in jails and works to implement them. These things are not going to fly well with the FFRF. The “uniform” issue is just the tip of the iceberg on this target.
Sheriff Judd has a history of speaking at various churches, in uniform. He offers inspirational anecdotes from his own personal life as well as practical information about crime, safety, and the Constitution. And this is a problem, why?
The real problem is the FFRF butting in where they have no business. Polk County is a mostly rural area of about 500,000 residents. The city of Lakeland, population 100,000, where the church is located, has a small-town feel. This is a very Christian community. Churches are on every street corner. They are the local gathering places. Shoot, his swearing in, a public event, was also held at the church! Oh the horror! Where was the public outcry about that travesty?
This Sheriff has been re-elected TWICE… by a LANDSLIDE! The people who elect him LOVE HIM. They love what he does, what he says, and what he represents. If 5 atheists have a problem with him speaking in a church in uniform, they are a serious minority. And in a representative government, the minority is not always represented. Sorry folks. That’s just the way it works. If they don’t like it, they can work to elect a different Sheriff or move somewhere with more like-minded people. Period.