|Tim Jeffries, the quirky director of Arizona's Department of Economic Security, poses with Mr. Smiley outside the DES building. He had the five round concrete barriers (to prevent a car from driving up onto the patio area) painted with clever themes.|
The secularists have ignored how the state recruits its employees to automatically contribute money from their paychecks to charities, which include several Christian nonprofits.
The director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security, Tim Jeffries, is under fire from a secularist group for mentioning to employees in an April email that they could give him “special intentions” to take on his next annual trip to a popular religious site in France. Jeffries is Catholic, and the Grotto in Lourdes is considered a holy place where people go to be healed. He has visited the sacred site every year for the past seven years, bringing letters from others requesting healing or other help.
The Secular Coalition for Arizona is accusing Jeffries of violating state policy by proselytizing. His letter, said the group’s director Zenaido Quintana, is “particularly egregious and could have had him fired from many companies — organizations where policies are in place to prevent work email from being used to proselytize religion.”
But Jeffries didn’t promote the Catholic faith, invite employees to church or request money for religious causes. All he did was offer a service employees were free to accept or reject. The state policy Jeffries is accused of violating requires that “Any use of State property for other than State-business purposes must be exercised in accordance with your agency’s policies and procedures.” His supporters have argued that nothing in DES’s policies and procedures would prohibit Jeffries’ email.