South Carolina state troopers will no longer send “grieving books” to the bereaved families of car crash victims after a local atheist complained that the pamphlet contained too many Bible passages.
The book, A Time to Grieve, which the troopers paid for with state funds, was automatically mailed to accident victims’ families, just days after their loved one’s death.
According to American Humanist Association Legal Director David Niose, last year troopers sent the book to an atheist whose father perished in a wreck. Horrified by the content, which included a chapter titled, “If God Seems Far Away,” the woman threatened to sue state troopers, citing the state-funded book as a violation of the separation of church and state.
In all, the troopers spent only about $7,000 in state funds, reserved for administrative costs, accident reports, and “miscellaneous duties,” to publish the book. Since litigation costs would likely exceed the cost of publication, they jettisoned the program.
Litigation over the First Amendment’s provision, protecting the Free Exercise of religion and prohibiting government interference into the affairs of religious organizations, was popular in the early to mid-2000s.
The trend dropped off after a few high-profile cases, involving crosses on public land, nativity scenes on public property, and religious war memorials failed to make it to the Supreme Court.