Friday, August 12, 2016

Settlement Reached In Suit Over Sheriff's Religious Use of Department's Facebook Page

A settlement agreement has been reached in American Atheists, Inc. v. Watson, a suit alleging that Bradley County, Tennessee Sheriff Eric Watson used the sheriff department's Facebook page to promote the sheriff's Christian religious beliefs. (See prior posting.)  According to an American Atheists press release yesterday, under the settlement the county will pay $15,000 in damages to American Atheists and the local plaintiffs as well as $26,000 in attorney’s fees.  Also under the settlement, the Sheriff’s Department  will create a new, information-only, Facebook page that will not be used to "promote or further any religion, religious organization, religious event or religious belief." The original Facebook page has already been deactivated.  Sheriff Watson will be allowed to maintain a clearly marked personal Facebook page reflecting his personal opinions.