Some law enforcement leaders seem to believe when police officers take their oaths, they swear away their constitutional rights. According to The Daily Signal, “A Georgia police officer has resigned from the Port Wentworth (GA) Police Dept. after he was told by superiors that he could not share his personal religious views on social media.”
Cops have the same right to speak as long as they’re not claiming to speak for their departments. In this case, Jacob Kersey, by all accounts a solid rookie cop who’s hosted a podcast where he expresses religious opinions.
His opinion opposing gay marriage is both despised and shared by millions of Americans. “On Jan. 2, Kersey posted a 20-word message about his view of marriage on Facebook.”
People who are unable to separate their political or religious beliefs from how they treat others are unable to understand those who can. Police officers routinely deal with people they don’t align with religiously, culturally, politically, etc. But they still serve them equally.
Kersey’s bosses told him that posting on social media that he doesn’t believe in gay marriage “was the same thing as saying, ‘the N-word and ‘F—all those homosexuals,’” which is silly. Also silly is relying on a “separation of church and state argument,” which is not in the Constitution.
Kersey’s personal religious opposition to gay marriage doesn’t mean he hates gay people. He’s likely also against polygamy or even something as ubiquitous as unmarried couples living together— “in sin.”
Kersey’s bosses argued they wouldn’t want to be liable for a “use of force” situation involving someone in the “LGBTQ community?” What would they have said if Kersey had posted negative opinions about tattooed people? Would they argue he couldn’t be trusted to serve people with tattoos?
When Kersey swore his oath of office, he didn’t give up his constitutional rights. While he is restricted in what he may say in uniform, on duty, or even off duty if he tries to speak for the department, the First Amendment recognizes and protects his God-given right to freedom of religion and free speech—even if he’s a police officer.
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