Archive for December 2010

No, Sheriff, You Don’t Get To Aid Your Religion With Tax-Payer Property

12/29/2010

This is a story from my neck of the woods. Sheriff Grady Judd, who’s proven himself to be somewhat of a publicity whore, has, in an attempt to make jail less “fun” for the inmates and less “appealing” to potential inmates, violated both the United States and Florida Constitution by donating basketball equipment from Polk county jails to eight local churches (as of writing this, only one church has received the equipment; the other seven have been chosen but have yet to receive said equipment). Apparently, no one who works in the Polk County Sheriff’s Office is familiar with the very law they’re tasked with enforcing. According to Article 1, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution, “No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.” Luckily, Atheists of Florida, a network of activists in support of church/state separation, have written a letter to the Sheriff’s Office reminding them of the law. Somehow, I doubt the law is going to stop Sheriff Grady Judd from believing he can do this…

As can be expected, the response from many towards the Atheists of Florida has been almost entirely idiotic. The usual cries of “these atheists need to mind their own business” and “I’m so sick of atheists complaining about blah blah blah” abound. Being the curious person I am, I have a couple of questions to those who are upset with the Atheists of Florida for reminding the Sheriff that he and his office are not exempt from obeying the law. What would you be saying if the recipients of our tax-payer funded sporting equipment went to eight non-Christian places of worship, for example a mosque, synagogue, or temple (Buddhist or Hindu), and et cetera? What would you be saying if the tax-payer funded sporting equipment went to one of any of them? What about to an atheist group? If your answer was that you wouldn’t like it, why, then, the double-standard? If your answer was that you had no problem with it, don’t you think it wrong of Sheriff Grady Judd to donate the equipment to only Christian churches? Don’t you think a synagogue or mosque would appreciate the sporting equipment also?