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Georgia Sheriff’s “Merry Christmas, God Bless America” T-Shirts Are Unconstitutional, Says Humanist Group

For Immediate Release


Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, merrillmiller@americanhumanist.org

Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, mmiller@americanhumanist.org

(Hamilton, GA, Dec. 2, 2015)—The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center warned officials in Harris County, Georgia, that the sheriff office’s practice of selling t-shirts of an unconstitutional sign displayed on public property violates the Constitution.

On November 25, the Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a warning letter to the county condemning a sign erected by Sheriff Mike Jolley on government property that reads: “WARNING: Harris County is politically incorrect. We say: Merry Christmas, God Bless America and in God We Trust; We salute our troops and our flag. If this offends you…LEAVE!” The legal center recently learned that the sheriff is now selling t-shirts with the same message on an official county website. The legal center states that the sign and the t-shirts are unconstitutional and that the county is inviting a lawsuit if they are not removed.  

“Far from being a politically incorrect joke, the Harris County sheriff’s sign and t-shirts are an egregious violation of the Establishment Clause,” said Monica Miller, senior counsel at the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “Many local citizens object to the divisive message of the sign and t-shirts, which send a disturbing message of intolerance.”

“This sheriff is a bully, using his position of power to intimidate those who don't accept his inherently discriminatory 'God and Country' rhetoric,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “But in our great country, government doesn't have the right to exclude members of the community just because they don't follow the dominant faith.”

The American Humanist Association demands that the county move the sign to private property and stop selling the t-shirts on a government-sponsored website.

The Appignani Humanist Legal Center’s letter can be viewed here, and its follow-up can be viewed here


Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.