A sheriff in Florida who preaches Christianity while donning his uniform has a message for criticizers who want him to leave the outfit at home: "I'm gonna wear my uniform - you can guarantee it."
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has come under pressure recently from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which takes issue with him preaching in uniform when he addresses 15 to 20 congregations per year, NBC affiliate WFLA reported.
In a letter sent Monday, the group vowed to legal action if the sheriff continues to preach in uniform.
"We don't have any problem with him preaching in a church, he's free to do that," Andrew Seidel, the group's attorney, told WFLA. "What he's not allowed to do is use the public government office and title and uniform to promote his personal religion.”
According to Seidel, a handful of complaints came to FFRF following an April 19th message at the First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland.
In a message titled, "Wouldn't the World be a Better Place if Everyone Behaved like a Christian," Judd spoke of faith-based practices he'd implemented at the Polk County Jail, WFLA reported. Judd claimed that hundreds of inmates had adopted Christianity and had been baptized while serving their sentences.
The church's pastor Jay Dennis told WFLA that Judd speaks to his congregation every year.
“The uniform represents more than the office, it represents the man behind it," Dennis told WFLA in a statement. "It is the man behind it that I asked to speak whether he is in uniform or out of uniform. I would think people would be proud to have a sheriff whose life and message, speech and conduct, is consistent with everything that uniform stands for."