A Louisiana sheriff has labeled an atheist organization as a fringe "extremist group" for pressuring him to remove Bible references from his office's public Facebook page.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter to Washington Parish Sheriff Randy "Country" Seal, to demand the removal of Facebook posts with Bible references and complain about his promotion of Christianity in his official statements as sheriff.
The Wisconsin-based atheist group argued that Christian-themed posts on social media pages of public entities violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. It noted that religious images and messages on the Facebook page of the Sheriff's Department give the appearance that it endorses religion in general and Christianity in particular.
The organization, which boasts of 30,000 members across the country, claimed victory last week when it reported that the social media posts in question have been removed from the sheriff's office Facebook page.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Seal explained that he has decided to remove the social media posts that mentioned Bible verses and promoted Christian holidays because the department does not have the resources to fight a costly legal battle with the FFRF.
"Based on sound legal advice and being mindful of the possibility of a long and expensive legal fight, I directed that all Bible verses be removed from the official Facebook pages of the Washington Parish Sheriff's Office," the sheriff wrote, as reported by The Christian Post.
He went on to criticize the FFRF, which is known for pressuring schools and government entities to adhere to a strict separation of church and state.
"The Freedom from Religion Foundation continues to attack and threaten small towns and average Americans for exercising their constitutional freedoms. This well-funded but fringe, extremist group has sued to remove 'In God We Trust' from United States currency; sued to remove the Star of David from a Holocaust memorial and sued Presidents Bush and President Obama for holding a National Day of Prayer," Seal said.
College football coaches and even a U.S. senator have also been pressured by the FFRF to stop promoting Bible verses and Christianity on their social media pages.
The sheriff noted that other government agencies have caved in to the group's demands for fear of having to pay for legal expenses, and added that his office also cannot afford the cost of defending against a lawsuit from the atheist group.
Seal concluded by saying his office's mission is to enforce the law and protect its citizens, adding, "My belief that Jesus is my Lord and Savior has not changed!!"