A former Georgia police officer resigned following a suspension over a social media post in which he expressed his Christian beliefs that “there’s no such thing” as gay marriage.
“Offending people is now becoming a punishable offense,” Jacob Kersey wrote. “This didn’t happen in Russia or Canada. This happened in the United States.”
“It happened in Georgia,” the 19-year-old Christian podcaster said. “It happened to me.”
“I resigned after backlash over my traditional marriage views,” he posted to his Facebook account.
Kersey told The Daily Signal that “everything was going well” at the Port Wentworth Police Department where he was employed last May.
But things changed after Kersey posted on his personal Facebook page that “God designed marriage.”
“Marriage refers to Christ and the church,” he wrote. “That’s why there is no such thing as homosexual marriage.”
Kersey’s supervisor picked up the phone the following day to tell him to remove the post because he’d received a complaint.
Kersey refused and was told that non-compliance could cost him his job.
Reports The Daily Signal:
Kersey said he then was contacted by Lt. Justin Hardy, who told him that the Port Wentworth Police Department didn’t want to be held liable in a “use of force” situation involving someone in the LGBTQ community. Kersey still refused to delete the post.
The police officer received a phone call later that day from the police department’s Maj. Lee Sherrod, ordering him to come to the office the following morning, Jan. 4, and turn in everything he had that belonged to the city.
Thinking he was going to be fired, Kersey went to the police station for a meeting with Sherrod, Hardy, Capt. Nathan Jentzen, and Police Chief Matt Libby, where he says he was told he was “being placed on administrative leave while the city investigated to see if I could keep my job.”
“I was told that I was wise beyond my years, an old soul, and that they brag on me all the time,” he explained, “but that I couldn’t post things like that.”
According to Chief Libby, Kersey’s marriage post was the “same thing as saying the N-word and ‘F— all those homosexuals.'”
Kersey’s free speech “was limited,” his captain told him, “due to my position as … a police officer.”
After sitting on paid administrative leave for a week, the police department leaders again met with the young officer to tell him his leave was over and his job was intact — on one condition: Kersey had to agree to not post any opinion on social media that someone might find offensive.
Scripture verses were okay, but if he continued to share his “interpretation or opinion on Scripture” that someone else “deemed offensive,” he’d have to turn in his badge.
The justification the department used for trampling on his First Amendment rights?
“Separation of church and state,” Kersey said.
Sherrod followed up with a “letter of notification” in which Sherrod reminded Kersey “that if any post on any of your social media platforms, or any other statement or action, renders you unable to perform, and to be seen as [unable] to perform, your job in a fair and equitable manner, you could be terminated.”
Four days later, the devout Christian turned in his badge, but not before the department bullied him into removing his “offensive” post.
“Even though I resigned,” he said, “it was made clear to me in the meetings by my command staff that if I was to go back to work, they could fire me at any time for any reason, as I was still in my work test period. Those aren’t very encouraging statements to make to an officer who is on administrative leave after being led to believe he was terminated.”
“I wanted to spend some time of my life learning what that meant to serve and to follow in the footsteps of people who invested in my life at a young age, and I was extremely excited about doing that,” Kersey said of his decision to become a police officer. “But it seems, at least at that department that I was working at, that the only way that was possible is if I compromise my values, morals, and deeply held religious beliefs.”
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