A sheriff in the US state of North Carolina has refused to remove a Bible verse from a wall inside a government office after an organisation that campaigns for the separation of church and state requested for it to be taken down.
Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote to sheriff Jody Greene earlier this month to raise concerns about the Bible verse Philippians 4:13 being displayed on a wall at the sheriff's office.
The organisation argued that the verse is "exclusionary" and represents an "unconstitutional endorsement of Christianity".
"This message alienates the 24% of Americans who are non-religious. We urge the Sheriff's Office to recognize its obligation to provide all citizens with an environment free from religious endorsement by removing this exclusionary display," the letter reads.
But Greene pushed back saying that the scripture was "very motivational" to him and his staff and announced he will not be taking it down.
"The verse is one of my favorite Bible verses, and it seemed fitting for all the adversity I have had to endure," he said. "Here at the sheriff's office, we work hard in everything that we do. Before we execute a search warrant, or any service that puts our people in immediate harms way, we ALWAYS go to the Lord with a group prayer. ALWAYS!"
He went on to add that he believes there is a political motivation behind the complaints.
"I have taken many pictures with that Bible verse in the backdrop with not a single issue, but now that we are going into an election year, it is an issue. How absurd!"
"This is a political ploy. Some want a person that they can control. Companies spend thousands of dollars on motivational classes, to come up with motivational slogans. My motivation comes from the greatest motivational speaker of all time, Jesus Christ," he said.
Greene explained the Bible verse was put on the wall after he took office and it was paid for with private, and not tax-payer, funds.
The sheriff ended his letter by saying "we need more Jesus and less politics" and expressed gratitude for "all calls and messages of support" for the Bible verse.
"I am not scared of much, but I am afraid of burning in Hell," he said. "Just look at where our society is headed. It is time, past time, to stand up. So let me be clear, I will not waiver on my stance and Christian beliefs.
"Merry Christmas and God bless you ALL!!," he concluded.