Officer Jacob Kersey, the 19-year old Georgia police officer who resigned from his position in law enforcement last month, is partnering with First Liberty Institute to pursue legal action against his former police department employer for infringing on his constitutional right to religious freedom.
For those who haven’t been following Kersey’s story, here’s a quick recap:
First Liberty Institute, a non-profit Christian conservative legal organization, has sent a letter to Port Wentworth Police Department on Kersey’s behalf, asking it to “announce an official change of policy that’s fully consistent with the First Amendment” and release a public statement “committing to respect the First Amendment rights of its officers.”
The letter further outlined the department’s violation of constitutional freedoms and flagrant discrimination against Kersey:
“The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment protects Mr. Kersey’s right to express his Christian beliefs in his personal life and discuss his faith while off duty…The Free Exercise Clause does not permit the State to confine religious speech to whispers or banish it to broom closets. If it did, the exercise of one’s religion would not be free at all…The Department’s actions send a message to Christians who hold traditional biblical beliefs about marriage that they are unwelcome as police officers or city employees.”
In a press release, the firm summed up the situation by stating: “What the city and police did is wrong and violates the Constitution. They owe Jacob a public apology, and should take action to adopt policies that recognize the free speech and free exercise rights of their employees.”
Regarding the lawsuit, Kersey has expressed the need for legal action out of concern for other police officers who may find themselves faced with a similar dilemma. In a conversation with the Standing for Freedom Center, he explained,
“This effort is important as this attack on religious liberty will continue if it doesn’t stop here. I am thinking about the next officer or employee that will be faced with choosing between their career and deeply held religious beliefs. There’s no doubt in my mind that if the city is allowed to sweep this ludicrous incident under the rug, this will happen to another officer, and I’ll be the example. When others see what happened to me, they will be afraid to talk about their religious beliefs.”
Kersey also recognizes that what happened to him is only indicative of a larger issue: Americans’ First Amendment freedoms are under attack.
“If you can’t talk about your religion, then you don’t have religious freedom. Free speech and religious liberty are clearly at stake. What happened to me should be a wakeup call. Regardless of whether you agree with my statement or not, the ability to agree to disagree is on life support.”
Officer Jacob Kersey is just one of many people whose rights to religious freedom have been compromised in the workforce. For some, it may have become normal to live under mob-rule — after all, conservatives and Christians have been taking heat from progressive mobs since at least 2016. But when you really consider the significance of an employer in America threatening a good employee with termination due to his religious beliefs, it’s incredibly alarming. The powers-that-be determined that Kersey’s views were not just something one may simply disagree with but that they were “inappropriate” and “offensive” for the public to witness.
This is dystopian. It’s dangerous. And it’s incredibly illegal.
If we had any sort of justice system that consistently held up the Constitution as the Law of the Land, perhaps things like this wouldn’t happen so frequently. Sadly, the same people who demand that Jacob Kersey have no influence or freedom of expression online are the same people who have infiltrated our justice system to affect change according to their progressive whims. Hopefully, Kersey won’t have the same hostile experience that Christian baker Jack Phillips had in what should have been a cut-and-dry religious freedom case, no thanks to the many activist judges who heard it.
It’s no wonder that our culture has become so quickly depraved — the very people entrusted to protect citizens and enforce the law can’t even do it for their own. What an incredible example of irony it is that the very organization intended to uphold the law has broken it. But isn’t that the case with all of our government institutions?
The FBI has been targeting, raiding, and arresting pro-life advocates for exercising their right to free speech and assembly. The current president of the United States and his family have been caught doing business dealings with foreign adversaries. Mayors and district attorneys have released career criminals into the streets. Public schools are able to sexually groom and harass minor children with no consequences and even silence parents who raise concerns. The list of illegal actions by the U.S. government is a long one and only appears to be growing.
Why have we become a nation of chaos? One reason is that the government is no longer rewarding what is good and punishing what is evil (1 Peter 2:14), but rather calling good evil and evil good (Isaiah 5:20).
It is so important that Christians refuse to play along and instead stand up for the good. Religious freedom in this country is indeed under attack, and the reality many Christians should understand is that a day could soon come when the government no longer recognizes that freedom. But that should not stop us from pursuing godliness and sharing the gospel.
Thankfully, God has used Christians like Jacob Kersey to be an example — not just in the fight to maintain our freedoms, but also to be the vessel through which God reveals His glory. Though he is enduring a hardship, what a testimony Jacob will have as he stood firm in his convictions and truly remained the salt and light — even under pressure.
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Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.