Political and religious leaders are planning to deliver petitions signed by tens of thousands demanding an apology from a Georgia city after a police officer claimed he felt pressured to resign because of his religious views.
Former Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., who now serves as senior adviser to Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, will join multiple pastors and an Atlanta fire chief who was allegedly fired for his faith to give the petition to the leaders of Port Wentworth on March 10, according to a press release from the Family Research Council.
The petition calls on the mayor and city council to apologize for their treatment of former Officer Jacob Kersey, 20, who quit the police department in January after he was placed on paid administrative leave upon refusing to remove a personal Facebook post regarding his Christian belief about marriage.
“God designed marriage,” Kersey wrote in the post that was flagged by his superiors following an anonymous complaint, according to a Jan. 13 letter of notification he received. “Marriage refers to Christ and the church. That’s why there’s no such thing as homosexual marriage.”
Kersey, whose lawyers at First Liberty Institute fired off a letter to the City of Port Wentworth and its police department last month, told Fox News Digital the petition has surpassed 30,000 signatures as of Tuesday.
Kersey was not fired but explained to Fox News Digital in January how he felt compelled to resign after being told he could face termination for future social media posts that others might find offensive.
Days after Kersey’s resignation drew national attention, Port Wentworth Police Chief Matthew W. Libby announced his retirement. There was no indication the abrupt announcement was related to Kersey, and the chief’s retirement listed no specific reason for the decision.
“This event is important as that I want to make sure what happened to me doesn’t happen to others,” Kersey told Fox News Digital. “The reality is that this can and will continue to happen to devout Christians unless we defend our religious liberty rights.
“Churches and spiritual leaders need to be prepared to respond to the type of hostility that I faced in Port Wentworth. We are sending a message to the city that their actions were unacceptable and the body of Christ will stand together in the face of hostility toward faith.
“I think it is of the utmost importance to communicate that what happened to me could happen to any devout Christian,” he added. “Churches and spiritual leaders need to be equipped to know how to respond and to care for their brothers and sisters in Christ when they too experience the hostility I faced in Port Wentworth. Stories like mine are on the rise. We need to be prepared, and our congregations need to be prepared.”
The City of Port Wentworth did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment before publication.