A former Georgia police officer investigated over a religious social media post that claimed “gay marriage doesn’t exist” said he felt pressured to resign after being told that he could be fired because he shares his faith.
Jacob Kersey, 19, who left the Port Wentworth Police Department earlier this month, told Fox News Digital that he was placed on paid administrative leave on January 4 after refusing to remove the Facebook post he was posting regarding his Christian belief in marriage.
“God designed marriage,” Kersey wrote in the post, which was flagged by his bosses after “an anonymous complaint,” according to a Jan. 13 notification letter first reported by The Daily Signal and reported by Fox News Digital was made available. “Marriage relates to Christ and the Church. Therefore there is no gay marriage.”
Kersey was not fired after the inquest, but said he decided to quit because he was told he could face termination for future social media posts that others find offensive. He said he spoke to a law firm about possible legal action.
In his letter to Kersey, Maj. Bradwick Sherrod stated that the department’s investigation “did not find sufficient evidence to determine a breach of any policies” in his social media posts, his posts relating to “protected classes” such as the LGBTQ community “might raise legitimate concerns about your objectivity and the performance of your professional duties where a member or suspected member of the LGBTQ+ community is involved.
“As we have previously discussed, please remember that if a posting on any of your social media platforms, or any other statement or action, makes you unable to perform your work in a fair and reasonable manner and will be deemed to have the capacity to perform on fair way you could be fired,” the letter went on to warn.
The Major also reminded Kersey that same-sex marriages are legal in Georgia and the United States following the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges are legal.
The 19-year-old worked for the Pont Wentworth Police Department.Jacob Kersey
“I didn’t do anything wrong, and they told me so,” Kersey said of a meeting he later had with department heads. “That’s why they didn’t fire me. They wanted me to come back to work, but they were trying to create a new department policy that would prevent me from saying anything that anyone anywhere might find offensive.”
He said he was told he could post direct Bible quotes but not his interpretation of them.
“It’s such a dangerous precedent: if you have free time in your free time and you could say anything – even something religious, even something in church – if someone is offended somewhere, you can be fired for it,” he said.
Kersey, who noted he has hosted a podcast where he voices his opinions for seven years, said his boss compared his post to someone using the N-word slur. He decided on January 18 that he must resign to avoid inevitable termination and potential danger.
“I wasn’t sure if I would have my command staff behind me if I took to the streets and enforced the law,” he said. “It’s just too dangerous of a job to do that. And I didn’t think it wise to go back to work under the circumstances.”
“I think if you compromise your integrity and your religious beliefs and your faith to win, then you’ve lost and I just couldn’t do that,” he added.
The Port Wentworth Police Department, which serves a city of approximately 11,000 people in the greater Savannah area, did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
Kersey said other officials in the department had privately shared their support with him and he did not blame them for failing to publicly defend him.
Kersey was placed on administrative leave but later decided to quit.Jacob Kersey
“I fully understand why other officials are reluctant to comment,” he said. “I am a 19 year old single young man. I don’t have a lot of financial commitments so I can speak out against it because the only thing I really have to lose is my job.”
He worries more about what such a policy could mean for officials, who have a lot more to lose.
“We’re not talking about Canada, Russia or China here,” Kersey said. “We’re talking about the United States; and even within the United States we don’t speak of California or New York. We are talking about Georgia.”
He said many have reached out to him to express their “absolute disbelief that something like this is happening in America and in Georgia.”
Kersey said he developed respect and admiration for the police when they often “brought peace” to his family while growing up in a broken home.
He recalled that many of the officials involved in his family’s domestic troubles made every effort to be kind to him when he was a boy, which he said was “at a very young age in my life.” Age made such a big difference.” Those interactions ultimately inspired him to become an officer himself when he was old enough, he said.
“I joined the police force and have heard nothing but great things about my work for over eight months,” he said. “People only had good things to say about my work as a police officer.”
Kersey said he remains unsure of his career goals after leaving the department, although he is considering returning to law enforcement elsewhere, going to college or entering the ministry. He hopes his story will encourage others to stand up for what they believe, he said.
“In America, most of us are not being called to physical death because of our beliefs,” he said. “But we may be called to face the death of our dreams, we may be called to face the death of our reputation, or we may be called to make other people think bad things about us. But what matters is what God thinks about us.”