Mounds, Oklahoma, Police Chief Antonio Porter defended himself amid lawsuit threats from the American Civil Liberties Union, which criticized him for posting Bible verses on the police department's Facebook page and questioned whether the department can protect non-Christians.
Porter said in an article in News on 6 on Friday that he starts each day by reading his devotional.
"Right after that, I immediately post them on Facebook and on LinkedIn," the police chief said.
He said that his intention at first was not to get a "bunch of likes," but revealed that the response from the town community has been overwhelmingly positive.
"I would hear stuff like, 'Wow, I needed this.' It would just hit right to their heart," he said.
The ACLU, which often challenges institutions it deems are violating the separation between church and state, sent Mounds Mayor Rosa Jackson a letter on Wednesday, arguing that the Facebook Bible verses represent "direct advocacy for the Christian religion," calling them "inappropriate" and "unconstitutional."
"By promoting one specific religion on its official Facebook page, the Mounds Police Department has established clear preference for that faith above other faiths and above no religious faith at all. This kind of government interference with our religious freedom is simply not permissible under United States or Oklahoma law," wrote Brady Henderson, the ACLU of Oklahoma's legal director.
"In addition to the clear violation of one of the central tenets of American government, freedom of religion, the actions of the Mounds Police Department call into question whether or not the department can be trusted to adequately protect all those living under its jurisdiction, including members of minority faiths and those of no religious faith at all," Henderson continued.
"By establishing a preference for the Christian faith, the department undermines confidence in their ability to perform their duties in a manner consistent with our understanding of one of our most basic and cherished liberties."
The Mounds Police Department Facebook page features a banner depicting a police officer with angel wings, and has continued posting Bible verses and calls for prayer despite the controversy.
"Matthew 21:22: All things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive," one post on Friday read.
Another one from Wednesday quotes 2 Corinthians 4:8-10: "We are pressed on every side, yet not crushed; perplexed, yet not to despair; pursued, yet not forsaken; struck down, yet not destroyed; always carrying in the body the putting to death of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body."
Porter said in an interview with FOX23 that he is not concerned about ACLU's letter.
"With all the negativity in the world, it is time for people to start coming together with positive words and prayer," he stated.