'He is risen' post on sheriff's department Facebook page leads to $41K payout
A Tennessee sheriff’s department has agreed to pay $41,000 in attorney fees and damages to settle a suit by American Atheists over a “He is risen” Facebook comment on Easter.
The suit had claimed Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson violated the First Amendment by posting the message and deleting negative comments, the Chattanooga Times Free Press, WTVC, WDEF and the Tennessean report. American Atheists had sued along with two county residents, the Tennessean reported.
The sheriff’s department has agreed it won’t use its Facebook page to promote religion, while Watson will have a separate, personal Facebook page that makes clear the expressed opinions are his own, according to an American Atheists press release. The sheriff’s department does not acknowledge wrongdoing.
Watson released a statement, available at WDEF, saying the settlement was a business decision made by a local government insurance fund, and county funds won’t be used for the settlement.