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Nonprofit accuses Cherokee sheriff of ‘divisive religious promotion’ on Facebook

A well-known nonprofit organization has accused the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office of promoting Christianity on its Facebook page.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent Sheriff Frank Reynolds a letter Oct. 19 that alleged his office used “divisive religious promotion” on occasional posts.

Reynolds posted the letter in full Thursday on his Facebook page. As of Friday afternoon, his post had amassed more than 100 shares and 250 comments.

Sam Grover, associate counsel for the Wisconsin-based FFRF, wrote the letter, which specifically made mention of two posts from Memorial Day and Peace Officers Memorial Day. Grover said a “concerned Cherokee County citizen” contacted the nonprofit about the posts. 

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A post on May 15 quoted the bible verse Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”

This is a Facebook post by the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office that the Freedom From Religion Foundation mentioned in its letter to the sheriff's office alleging "divisive religious promotion."

The May 28 post featured a photo with Christian crosses honoring soldiers killed in combat.

The nonprofit organization Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office criticizing this Facebook post for it's inclusion of religious imagery.

Reynolds was not able to comment to AJC.com about the letter, but he did email a statement that said:

“The Cherokee Sheriff’s Office makes every effort not to ostracize any particular person or group regardless of race, color, religion, disability, sexual orientation or national origin. The claim by the ‘Freedom from Religion Foundation’ is noted. However, our community is overwhelmingly supportive of the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office and I am honored to serve as their elected Sheriff.” 

The FFRF letter also said, “The importance of honoring those who have died serving in the military or as peace officers cannot be overstated ... but with Veterans Day fast approaching, it’s important for your office to recognize that honoring those who have served does not override the Sheriff’s Office’s constitutional obligation not to promote one religion over others.”

According to the letter, the FFRF works to “protect the constitutional separation between state and church and to educate the public on matters related to nontheism.” 

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