ACLU asks Mounds police to stop posting religious messages to Facebook

MOUNDS, Okla. — The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma is asking the Mounds Police Department to stop sharing religious messages on the department's official Facebook page.

Citing the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the ACLU claims the department has posted multiple violations on Facebook.

According to a letter sent to Mayor Rosa Jackson by the ACLU, the posts include "quotations of Bible verses, calls to prayer and links to Bible study."

The letter also states:

"As the official Facebook page of a city police department, the account's direct advocacy of the Christian religion is not only inappropriate, but unconstitutional."

Officials said the letter was sent on Wednesday. At 6:24 a.m., the following post was put up on the Mounds Police Facebook page:

The ACLU provided the following statement from legal director Brady Henderson:

"Both the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and provisions of the Oklahoma Constitution protect against government officials establishing a state religion. The exclusive, pervasive promotion of the Christian faith by the Mounds Police Department represents a clear violation of those legal mandates. By promoting one specific religion on its official Facebook page, the Mounds Police Department has established clear preference for that faith above other faiths and above no religious faith at all. This kind of government interference with our religious freedom is simply not permissible under United States or Oklahoma law.

In addition to the clear violation of one of the central tenets of American government, freedom of religion, the actions of the Mounds Police Department call into question whether or not the department can be trusted to adequately protect all those living under its jurisdiction, including members of minority faiths and those of no religious faith at all. By establishing a preference for the Christian faith, the department undermines confidence in their ability to perform their duties in a manner consistent with our understanding of one of our most basic and cherished liberties."

Antonio Porter, the Mounds Chief of Police, responded to the letter, saying he isn't concerned about the ACLU and only wants to give words of encouragement to society.

He told FOX23 Wednesday that he 100 percent believes in giving words of comfort and encouragement in times of negativity. He said he's received positive feedback from those who have read what he's posted.

"With all the negativity in the world, it is time for people to start coming together with positive words and prayer," Porter said.

The police department posted an image to Facebook on Thursday showing what appears to be a letter of support from two Oklahoma elected officials.

FOX23 will continue to follow this story.

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