Published On: Thu, Jun 18th, 2015

Freedom From Religion group takes aim at Sheriff Grady Judd for ‘preaching’ in uniform

The Freedom From Religion Foundation today sent a letter to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd in protest of the sheriff delivering sermons in uniform at Lakeland, Florida’s First Baptist Church on the Mall.

Judd, as a guest preacher, regularly gives sermons at the church and the FFRF sent the sheriff a letter of complaint today. “Promoting your personal religion using your Polk County title and uniform gives the unfortunate impression that the county supports and endorses the First Baptist Church on the Mall and its religious teachings,” said Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel.

Judd’s most recent sermon titled “Wouldn’t the World Be Better If Everyone Behaved Like a Christian” at an April 19, 2015 service. In the sermon, Judd claims that God ordains his profession and asserts that the best way to reform people who have broken the law is through Jesus. Judd’s sermon is featured on the church’s website, which lists the “preacher” as “Sheriff Grady Judd.”

Grady Judd Polk County Sheriff

Grady Judd at Press Conference Photo/F Jenkins, use by permisson on Global Dispatch

FFRF points out that Judd represents a diverse population that consists of more than just Christians, and that the message of endorsement sent by sermonizing in uniform sends a message of exclusion to those non-Christians.

“In your official capacity as an officer of the government, you are bound by the Establishment Clause and cannot abuse that office to promote your personal religious choices,” wrote Seidel.

Judd also supported faith-based jailing in his sermon. Pointing to a study by Phil Zuckerman, Seidel noted that the least religious countries in the world actually have the lowest rates of crime and score highest on women’s rights and gender equality, among other positives. Meanwhile, the most religious states in the nation have the highest rates of poverty, violent crime, and other societal ills. “Your claim that increased religiosity lowers crime is simply nonsense,” Seidel explained to Judd.


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