A welcome sign in Harris County, Ga., now includes a sectarian message, thanks to the local sheriff.
County Sheriff Mike Jolley bought the additional sign with his own money and added it to the welcome sign without seeking public approval, reports WLTZ-TV.
“Welcome to Harris County, Georgia! WARNING: Harris County is politically incorrect. We say: Merry Christmas, God Bless America and In God We Trust; We salute our troops and our flag. If this offends you…LEAVE!” Jolley’s addition reads.
The sheriff has indicated that he doesn’t intend to remove the sign.
“I spent 20 years in the Army to give everyone the right not to agree with it and to voice their opinion if they’re not, and that’s fine,” he said. “We’ve gotten several hundred emails, Instagrams, Facebook comments, and many citizens in my county want to buy one and put it on their property so you’ll probably be seeing many more of these throughout the county.”
Critics say that Jolley may have violated the First Amendment, even though he included the national motto on the sign. Americans United’s assistant director of communications, Simon Brown, called the sheriff’s statements “unAmerican” on AU’s “Wall of Separation” blog.
“If Jolley were acting in his capacity as a private citizen, he could put up such a sign without issue,” Brown wrote. “But the placement of an official-looking sign outside the sheriff’s office looks a lot like a government endorsement of belief over non-belief and possibly a violation of the First Amendment.”