The problems for Jacob Kersey began January 2, when he shared his views in a social media post. “God created marriage. Marriage refers to Christ and the church,” he wrote on Facebook. “That is why there's no such thing as a homosexual marriage."
That kind of comment can easily stir up debate and anger on Facebook any day of the week but Kersey’s comment caused an overnight panic within the Port Wentworth Police Department. In the little Georgia town of 10,900, the young police officer was placed on leave Jan. 4 after the department said it received an anonymous complaint about his comment.
Kersey tells AFN he was told by a police department supervisor to remove the post but he refused.
"I said I don't believe I can do that,” the young man recalls. “It's a deeply held religious belief of mine, and it would compromise my morals and values to delete the post.”
Then came an official letter, dated January 13, in which a police major informed Kersey the department did not find “sufficient evidence to establish a violation of any policies.” Despite that admittance, the letter from Major Bradwick Sherrod says the police department reviewed Kersey’s social media posts, including comments and podcasts he has produced. Those comments are “likely offensive to protected classes” and so Kersey’s “objectivity” could be questioned, the letter concludes.
And so the trap was set. The letter further states any future comments on social media will harm Kersey’s ability to do his job in a “fair and equitable manner,” which would mean he would be “unable to perform” his duties. So if he can’t do his job, the letter concludes, “you could be terminated.”
So the young police officer, realizing he was cornered, decided to quit rather than kneel.
Reached for comment about Kersey's uncomfortable position, Paul Lee of the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers tells AFN police department policies vary about sharing your faith. But no officer, he says, should be expected to leave his or her faith at home.
The job of a law enforcement officer is a difficult, stressful one, Lee points out, and a police officer deals with a broken world full of broken people every day. So the Christian faith is important to many wearing the badge.
"There's not an exception clause in the Bible for cops," Lee, a retired police captain, insists.
Asked by AFN if he plans to sue, Kersey says he is considering “legal options” but is unsure about it.
“But I think the important thing is that people hear this story. That they’re encouraged,” he tells AFN. “And they don't allow themselves to be silenced by people who have no respect for the First Amendment and no respect for the word of God."