Why is This Georgia Town’s Chief of Police Using the Department’s Facebook Page to Preach Christianity?

It’s not strange at all that Harlem, Georgia Police Chief Gary Jones would use a Facebook page to keep citizens informed of local crime sprees, offer them some safety advice, and remind them of classes offered by the Harlem Dept. of Public Safety.

But it’s not hard to see how Jones crossed the line with this recent Facebook post (on the Department’s page):

There are many kids that have been raised in Godly homes that have went astray at no fault of the parent(s); however, too many have went astray due to parents failing to discipline and get involved in their children’s lives. The Police cannot raise your kids. Parents must become the disciplinarian and impose and enforce rules. The law does not prohibit a parent or guardian from spanking their children. The law says that parents may administer reasonable corporal punishment. No, it is not reasonable to strike a child with a bat or other object, but you can use a belt and strike their rear-ends. This may offend some parents that do not believe in spanking, and to you I say statistics are against you. Parents be nosy, check behind your kids and never assume that they will always be truthful. Doing these very things just may save the life of your child. Fathers you are the head of the home and God will hold you accountable. Get your children in church and teach them about the one and only true Saviour…Jesus Christ.

Apparently, Jones thinks that his government agency’s Facebook page is the appropriate place to offer his opinions on spanking and Jesus. As if we need another advocate for the kind of loving abuse featured in Michael and Debi Pearl‘s To Train Up a Child

Gary Jones (via WAGT)

When a local news station asked him about the post, he replied, “I’m not ashamed of putting God into anything, and that’s just my opinion that that’s what’s wrong with this country today.”

It’s scary that the chief law enforcement official in the city is blissfully ignorant of how the law works.

Things only got worse after Jones got pushback. He told the station:

I will continue to post and most of the people in Harlem are of Christian belief, and I’ve gotten a lot more support than people that don’t support it.”

Chief [J]ones says he plans to continue his posts, and he doesn’t make any apologies for anything he’s posted so far.

As if the majority’s religious preference should dictate whether or not the law should be followed.

Jones continued digging his hole on the Department’s Facebook page with a response to his previous post:

As expected, our most recent post regarding the diciplining of children and christianity has ruffled some feathers. Some folks are upset about me using the word God or Jesus Christ on a page that’s associated with the Harlem Department of Public Safety. This country was founded on the principles of God. We have allowed the government to remove him from the courtrooms, the schools and other places. I will lead this agency acknowledging Jesus Christ as my Savior. He guides my daily walk and directs me in the decisions that I make, to include those decisions made as a Department Head. I have never claimed to be perfect or sinless; however, I am proud to say that I need God in my life. This page does not necessarily reflect the same views or opinions of the City, but they are mine and I will continue to operate this agency with God first. Those that are of a different belief, to simply put it, don’t read our posts. I love you anyway. God Bless!

Oh, and by the way, if you needed to know what church to visit when you’re in Harlem, Jones has an opinion on that, too:

If anyone wants to be uplifted and hear a Great Man of God, come to Old Union Baptist Church in Harlem tonight at 7 PM. Dr. Frye will be preaching for our third night of Revival. Tomorrow night is the conclusion with the topic on the “Family”. Don’t miss out on this devine appointment. Come see what GOD has for you!

Let’s just do a full dump of religious posts, shall we?

I wouldn’t care if these posts were made on Jones’ personal Facebook page, but this is very clearly the government agency’s page. Just check out the “About” page:

  • “We” provide law enforcement services…
  • … “our citizens”
  • “The City reserves the right to remove inappropriate comments”…

If this wasn’t the city’s official page, you wouldn’t use those kinds of descriptors. You wouldn’t list your address as the same one used by the Harlem Department of Public Safety. You wouldn’t list the same phone number they use, either.

What Jones is doing is the equivalent of a public high school principal sending out religious messages on school stationery. No one cares about his personal beliefs or what motivates him to do his job. The one place he cannot proselytize and spread the words of Jesus is at work. No matter his intentions, he’s breaking the law.

Just think of what this must look like to non-Christians in the area. Do they worry Jones won’t protect them? Do they think he doesn’t care for them? Do they believe that, in a conflict between an atheist/Muslim/Jew and a Christian, he’ll automatically side with the Christian? I know I’d feel that way if I lived there.

Finally, if this is all happening on the agency’s Facebook page, how much worse must it be for the people who work under him every day?

The Freedom From Religion Foundation will be acting on this information shortly.

If Jones wants to keep his job, the solution is simple: Keep your religion to yourself. And if the city wants to avoid a lawsuit that it’ll undoubtedly lose, then the Director of Harlem’s Department of Public Safety David Sward needs to use some authority and force Jones to put an immediate halt to his Godly posts.

If anyone should know the importance of following the laws, even the ones you don’t like, it should be the chief of police. Unfortunately, Harlem is stuck with a leader who never even read past the first page of the Constitution.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • God’s Starship

    Yeah, I feel safer already with this putz in charge.

    • SeekerLancer

      Great name/avatar combination!

  • Art_Vandelay

    Because Georgia.

  • 3lemenope

    My tolerance for such ends with their having had explained to them that what they did was inappropriate for the position the occupy, and continuing on anyway.

    His ass should be removed from office so fast it leaves streak marks on the seat.

    • https://soundcloud.com/eddieboydmusic flyb

      Haha. I imagine this happening with a Simpsons style, “Yoink!”

      • skyblue

        Ideally followed by Nelson’s “Ha ha!”

  • paulalovescats

    1497 likes and a population of 2779. Well, they’re not all brainwashed. By the way….”have went”? And using a belt on a kid….

    • 3lemenope

      I somewhat cynically suspect that the remainder are, in large part, folks who don’t understand, don’t trust, or don’t have much use for “the Facebook”.

      EDIT: And, much less cynically, I’m sure most of the “likes” come from people who are not members of the community; posts that seem rhetorically helpful to this or that group tend to attract all sorts of gadflies from said group.

    • Stev84

      I don’t think you have to live there to like it.

      • Itarion

        If he was Amish, I’d suspect that that was essentially his family… But he can’t be Amish, since technology. *sigh

    • UWIR

      Re: “have went”

      I find it remarkable that people manage to sound like a hick even in writing.

      • squinney

        Yes, uneducated = belief in a god

  • skyblue

    Let’s see:
    – He advocates adults who are bigger and stronger than children using this to their advantage to physically abuse kids and hit them with belts.
    – As a government official, he cares not at all for the rights of religious minorities in his area, and when it was brought to his attention that he was doing something wrong, he went “all in” and off the deep end with more comments

    I can certainly see why this guy would be attracted to a position of power in law enforcement, and why he belongs nowhere near one.

    • Brie

      Now, now… a belt is not a bat. It must not be “another object” either… Belts must have some sort of divine category…

  • SeekerLancer

    “Apparently, Jones thinks that his government agency’s Facebook page is the appropriate place to offer his opinions on spanking and Jesus.”

    Kinky combination.

    • Belaam

      Spanking and Jesus had one song break the Top 20 in 1994, but have not performed since 1998.

      • FTP_LTR

        They have since gone their separate ways, and are pursuing separate careers – Spanking as a solo artist, and Jesus as a trio.

        • Madison Blane

          Spanking occasionally performs with five fingers and The Bzzzzzz toys as a back-up performers but never gives any of them official credit. Rumors claim Spanking is a selfish and hurtful jerk.
          Jesus has a small group of radicals who claim to support his career but when questioned, none of them ever really know anything about him. “There’s just somethin’ about that name” one devout follower was recently quoted as saying.

  • Belaam

    Went to the Mayor and City Council page to write them (http://www.harlemga.org/leadership.htm). Not too surprisingly, a retired pastor is on the city council and the Mayor attends his old church.

    The weird part is that they all post their kids and grandkids names, and sometimes ages and cities in which they now reside, as part of their government biographies.

    I suspect this town has no clue how technology should be used correctly. They do have a fun “report a crime” feature that really makes me want to report Constitutional violations. :D

    • UWIR

      Clearly, no actual chief of police would ignore the constitution so blatantly. We really should report that some criminal is impersonating a police officer on Facebook.

    • Guest

      We should report that someone dressed as a cop was caught molesting a Constitution.

  • A3Kr0n

    Police Chief Gary Jones’ world just became a little harder. Fortunately he has his God to help him through this rough spot.

  • WoodwindsRock

    Even if it was legal, those posts still wouldn’t be appropriate for such a page to be posting. They’re just flat out irrelevant.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    ” Parents be nosy, check behind your kids and never assume that they will always be truthful.”

    Yes, treat you kid like they are prisoners. While you are at it make sure to read every one of their emails and randomly drug test them. Funny that people would be upset if they were treated this way, but don’t have an issue doing it to a kid.

    To answer the title question it’s because it’s georgia.

    • iamgog

      It’s almost as if the level of fear and paranoia that one instills in their children is inversely related the the child’s openness and honesty about having misbehaved.

    • Ella Warnock

      That’s a pretty good way to insure that your kid will just get really, really good at flying under the radar. You might find out a lot of things by constantly and consistently invading your kid’s privacy, but that’s nothing compared to what she’ll make damn sure you never find out about.

  • smrnda

    People need to figure out that this kind of shit is for your PERSONAL facebook page (or any other site) – not an official government site. It’s not censorship to be told to post your bullshit on a site that is exclusively yours and personal.

    On spanking, all evidence demonstrates that beating kids doesn’t reduce bad behavior or crime. Nations where it’s more or less illegal have less crime than the US, and states which permit corporal punishment in schools have little to be proud of. On the other side, no 2 baby-beating proponents can agree – everybody who is pro-baby-beating is 100% they have the exact way to do it and everybody else is wrong.

    Why not raise kids to understand *why* certain things are a bad idea? Plenty of people who don’t beat their kids have kids who can behave. I’ve worked with kids, no hitting, and I’ve never been in a situation where if I could have hit kids it would have done any good.

    • Pitabred

      Authoritarians. Seems like they work themselves into positions of power…

  • Neko

    So this guy, in a sub-literate and Constitution-molesting kind of way, is pushing Pascal’s Wager.

    I’m incredulous. This can’t be real.

    • http://perplexedorder.blogspot.com/ Brad Smith

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed the blatant Pascal’s Wager. I just laughed when I read it.

  • Dorothy

    i’ve been following this blog every day (faithfully!) for about 3 years now. i thought’ i’d heard just about everything. good think i wasn’t drinking anything when i read this

  • squinney

    Interesting story. Please keep us updated on the outcome.

  • cyb pauli

    1. A belt is an object just like a baseball bat. There is no moral difference between striking a defenseless child on his or her buttocks with a bat or a belt.

    2. Where are the statistics stating that physically abused children are more law-abiding than those who are/were not? I would like to see that study.

  • WalterWhite007

    The USA seems to have no shortage of these lunatics. This guy should be severely ‘disciplined’. He should be forced to read On The Origin of Species, The Selfish Gene, 50 Reasons People Give….(Guy P. Harrison,), god Is Not Great – Hitchens, Caveman Logic (Hank Davis), The Believing Brain – Shermer. Then he has to pass a test to show he read them at least. That should be enough punishment unless he offends again!!

    • Artor

      Your’re making a big assumption that he can read.

    • Sideshow_Billybob

      Considering what he’s doing as a government official, I’ll settle for just the Constitution.

      • WalterWhite007

        Right. And The Constitution!!

  • xXElephantGodXx

    C’mon people, do you even Georgia? Lol, backwoods hicks!

  • ciknay

    I personally have no issue with disciplining when kids are being little shits. When I was out of line, my ass was sore, and I got sent to bed.

    That’s where the agreements end though.

  • Rich

    People like him would burn women as witches if he could get away with it.

    • ShoeUnited

      Hey now. This is America.

      We hang our witches.

  • skinnercitycyclist

    English, motherfucker, do you write it?

    • tsig

      Nah, he speaks advanced fundie.

  • Nemo

    Seriously, what’s with Pascal’s Wager? Do fundies not realize how debunked it is? Seeing as how he recites the wager almost verbatim, I can only assume he knows it’s an old argument.

  • Fentwin

    ” Don’t miss out on this devine appointment.”

    Devine? They have Andy Devine?


  • Mick

    When I saw “have went astray” twice in the first sentence, I skipped to the comments, and now I’m off to the next article. I guess I’ll never know what the silly bugger is up to.

    • Obazervazi

      It gets worse. He can’t even spell ‘devine’.

  • Richard Thomas

    “As expected, our most recent post regarding the diciplining of children and christianity has ruffled some feathers.”

    Weren’t we just yesterday reading about a woman whose feathers got ruffled in the workplace? This guy is admitting that he is using a public entity to push his ideology and trying to stir up controversy. Where is the ACLU on this?

  • http://www.thinkyhead.com/ Thinkyhead

    I’m sure he must be feeling exalted and extra pious now that he’s being persecuted. Christians in the USA love any chance to claim persecution because the Bible tells them that being persecuted wins them extra prizes.

  • Fallulah

    WOW. If you don’t believe as I do..don’t read the posts. WOW talk about being an inclusive unbiased public officer!

  • Camorris

    I think what we are seeing here is a glimpse of what America will be like as a theocracy. History shows that religion can not ensure compliance without police.

  • JoseValdes

    After having a long discussion with an atheist on how not to get sued, Gary has decided that because God is on his side, he can’t lose. He will continue to flout the US Constitution and preach on a government website.

    Looks like someone has a case of the Martyrs… *sigh*

  • JoseValdes


  • Ogre Magi

    Any one who is surprised by this kind of crap must not know the South very well

  • Shadowlen

    I live about 20 min from Harlem. This is prevalent everywhere I have been to (read: lived) in the south has been like this. Even though I am not surprised by the comments of this individual, I am ashamed that I live in such an area. And no, the people of Harlem have no idea how to use the internet or social media :P

  • tonyfleming

    Guess someone finally got through his thick skull. A recent post noted that he’s got a personal page and comments from supporters suggest that he did so due to the pressure about the inappropriate posts. WIN!