By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
JACKSONVILLE — When a candidate wins the office of Sheriff, does he check his civil rights at the door? Is he no longer allowed to express his opinion in an open forum? God forbid! Yet that seems to be the logic of the Freedom from Religion Foundation which is calling for disciplinary action against Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown.
The Wisconsin-based organization of atheists and agnostics which bills itself as a “state/church watchdog” took offense to an advertisement Brown purchased in his local newspaper, the Jacksonville Daily News, in which he extols the Truth of God and calls “decent and respectable citizens of a decent and respectful society” to turn back to the Ten Commandments.
“When America turns back to God’s Law and man’s standards established from God’s Law, good and decent things will turn around for All Americans,” Sheriff Brown’s letter states, further admonishing fellow believers to “stand and be counted for the Cause of God and what is decent and right.”
The FFRF called the advertisement “illegal government endorsement and flagrant disregard for the Establishment Clause,” and had its attorney send a letter to the Onslow County Board of Commissioners demanding action against Brown.
“It is absurd for an officer of human law to be preaching ‘God’s Law’ and ‘the Law of God, The Ten Commandments,’ from his official post,” FFRF Attorney Patrick Elliot noted in a press release. The organization further demanded that Commissioners confirm that no taxpayer funds were used for the ad.
“I’m afraid what’s absurd is this organization’s attempt to deny Sheriff Brown his freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and especially to do so by claiming that it is defending the Establishment Clause,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “This has absolutely nothing to do with Congress making a law respecting an establishment of a national church.”
Further, he said that a sheriff’s encouraging adherence to the Ten Commandments seems rather apropos since historical scholars acknowledge the Decalogue to be the primary basis for the common law, the fundamental law of the American colonies upon which our nation’s legal system is based.
The North Carolina Family Policy Council reported on the FFRF’s allegations against Brown on its Web site where staff attorney Jere Royall commended Brown for his “faithful acknowledgment of God and His provision in the area of community standards and the law.”
According to the Jacksonville Daily News, the Onslow County Manager received the FFRF’s letter and informed the Sheriff of its existence but no other response is planned.
In a letter to the editor published Wednesday, one reader summed up the situation quite simply for the complaining atheists.
“If we want to elect an overt Christian to public office we will,” wrote Royce Bennett. “Anyone who does not like this has the right to run for office, or support another candidate.”