A prominent atheist group has warned Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson against sharing Bible verses on his official social media pages, suggesting that he is violating the U.S. Constitution by doing so.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has sent a letter to Hutchinson on Tuesday, asking him to stop his practice of posting Bible verses to his Twitter and Facebook accounts each Sunday.
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“Government officials cannot endorse religion, including by regularly publishing Bible verses,” FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel wrote.
“When it comes to violations of the Establishment Clause, i.e., the government endorsing religion, appearances matter. Government officials cannot appear to endorse Christianity,” he continued.
The secularist group contended that Hutchinson’s posts are a form of government speech and recommended that the governor create a new personal social media account separate from his official pages to share his religious messages.
“If you cannot refrain from using social media to promote your personal religion, then you should open other, personal social media accounts for your personal thoughts, musings, prayers, and Bible verses and leave all your official business for the accounts mentioned above,” Seidel said.
The FFRF attorney also contended that Jesus’ exhortation not to make an ostentatious show out of prayer just to be seen by others also applies to posting Scriptures publicly.
“None of Jesus’s supposed words mention Twitter—perhaps He wasn’t that prescient—but the condemnation of public piety is reasonably clear,” the FFRF attorney said.
The group maintained that it has no objections to people reading and discussing the Bible, adding that the “road to atheism is littered with bibles that have been read cover to cover.” It is not known whether Hutchinson plans to respond to the FFRF’s letter.
Earlier this month, the FFRF chastised another public official for volunteering for the Salvation Army.
Republican Connecticut Sen. George Logan, a freshman senator, had volunteered to work as a bell-ringer outside a Walmart store in Naugatuck.
The atheist organization called on Logan to keep up the separation of church and state and suggested that the senator should consider supporting only secular charities in the future. The FFRF contended that the Salvation Army is not merely a charity, but also a church denomination with an “evangelistic mission.”
State Rep. David Labriola said that he had been volunteering with the Salvation Army for several years, but he did not get a letter like the one received by Logan.
Logan dismissed the FFRF’s arguments that his volunteer work was a separation of church and state issue and he said that he decided to “ring even more bells” for the Salvation Army to raise money for people in need.