(LifeSiteNews) — In January, 19-year-old Christian police officer Jacob Kersey was put on leave by the Port Wentworth Police Department near Savannah, Georgia, after posting a defense of traditional marriage on social media while off-duty.
After a period of paid administrative leave, Kersey was given a choice: either agree not to publicly discuss his Christian view of marriage again, or get fired. Kersey chose to resign from being a police officer, a position that he had dreamed of since childhood.
Kersey and his lawyer, Courtney Jones of the pro-religious freedom First Liberty organization, join me on today’s episode of The John-Henry Westen Show to tell me his story and discuss further developments in his case.
According to Jones, the ultimatum given Kersey by the Port Wentworth Police Department was illegal. “Putting Jacob to that choice … between censoring his private religious speech and keeping his job is an unconstitutional choice,” she told me. “So the department violated Jacob’s First Amendment rights, both his right to the free exercise of religion and his free speech rights when they forced him to make this an unconstitutional choice.”
Jones further told me that First Liberty asked the Port Wentworth police in a letter to do two things with regard to Kersey’s case. “The first being an apology to Jacob for blatantly violating his First Amendment rights … and the letter also asks the city … to implement policies or revise their existing policies to respect the religious liberty rights, and also … the constitutional rights of their employees as a whole. So we’re hopeful that the city will take the appropriate steps to making these necessary changes.”
Discussing his resignation and the events that led to it, Kersey told me: “I know God is sovereign. God is in control. He saw this coming way before I did. And I trust that even where we’re at now, He’s used this story to bring Himself glory and honor. And really what we’re trying to do with First Liberty, it’s just to ensure that this doesn’t happen to another law enforcement officer ever again.”
Kersey also maintains that telling people the truth about marriage is truly loving, and that the definitions of love and hate have been changed by the society we live in. According to him, people can disagree with each other and still love one another, because disagreement with others is part of the American experience.
“When it comes to loving your neighbor, loving means telling them the truth,” Kersey said. “You know, ultimately, as a Christian, you don’t want to affirm someone in sin that’s going to damn their soul to hell. As Christians, we point out, even our sin, we point out the truth of our sin, of our fallen nature, of [the] fallen condition where we’re at. And we point out, ‘Hey there’s a Savior that loves you so much that He died on the cross for you.’”
“So loving people means telling them that when you come to Christ, you can come as you are, but in no way will you stay as you are when you stand before a holy God,” he continued.
Kersey also told me he is honored that God has given him the opportunity to suffer for his beliefs. “I don’t know how to explain it,” he said. “I’m not going to say it hasn’t been hard. There have been nights where, just to be honest, there have been tears strolling down my face and I struggle with what happened. But then in a moment, the sense of rejoicing comes, and as these tears come down my face, I can smile and rejoice, thanking God for the opportunity, just as the apostles did, saying … they rejoice because Scripture says they were counted worthy for suffering for His name.”
Kersey also gave advice for those who would suffer for Christ, saying that people should trust in Christ and abide with Him.
“As you abide in Christ, trust in Him, and He’s going to present those opportunities for you. And it might be something where you stand in a big way and you give up something big for God, or [it] might be in small ways,” he said. “But trust in Him, abide in Him, check your motives, and ensure that everything that you do is first born out of a love for God, a passion for the supremacy of Jesus Christ in all things. And then secondly, after that relationship is right, then out of a love for the souls of mankind, and of a love for those people around you.”
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