When former Atlanta metro area Sheriff's Deputy Josh McCuen was fired from his job at the Hall County Jail for teaching a Bible study class, his superiors called it fraternizing with known criminals, but McCuen says he was fired for his Christian beliefs.
McCuen worked at the county jail for only eight months before starting an off-site Bible study program for former inmates who were curious about turning to God. McCuen says that he started the study group because a Christian inmate had once shown him the love of God, and he believed it was his calling to return the favor.
"About 4 months ago, while working in the jail, I came across an [inmate] Jason Williams, who God used to change my life," he explained on his website. "God grabbed a hold of me and gave me a love for the lost. I was a law enforcement officer for 9 years and up until 4 months ago I thought that every suspect I arrested and every inmate was a maggot. God used an inmate to minister to me and God placed me in a jail around these guys everyday to show me that they are still his people too."
McCuen set up the Facebook group and a subsequent GoFundMe crowdfunding page to gather interest and capital for his ministry. The group, called Revival 172, had its first meeting on January 4th and it aims to not only help the inmates find Jesus, but also help the families of inmates who are struggling during the incarceration period.
"This small setting is not just [for] ex inmates but for anyone that wants to come and [worship] the Lord!" he wrote. "We are holding services every Sunday night @ 6:30 pm at my apartment complex."
But being off-site still didn't clear the former deputy from the liability of the allegations by the Sheriff's department who said that McCuen's firing had nothing to do with his religious beliefs. "The supervisor discussing this issue did not make any reference to religious beliefs or actions, but this was brought up by McCuen as a reason for his improper behavior," read a statement from the department.
The Sheriff's department stated that McCuen had already been cited twice for insubordination, although they didn't mention if those citations had anything to do with the Bible study classes.
"It's clear they call it fraternizing," McCuen told WSB-TV. "It's actually called being persecuted for Christ. And I take joy in that."
On the Revival 172 Facebook page, McCuen released a statement concerning the firing and how he plans to continue with the ministry. "Our main goal is to share the love of Christ with everyone and see the lost saved! I know God will provide a job without me seeking financial restitutions from a law suit," he said.
McCuen goes into greater detail on his GoFundMe campaign page where he describes the situation and how he plans to use the $10,000 that he's asking to be donated. "I have spent money from my own pocket to get this thing running and I'm running out of money," he said. "We are wanting to get a small facility to rent and pay the rent up for the whole year as well as buy food to support these families of the inmates while they are in jail and any other family that needs help and support. We will be supplying them with food and drinks and your everyday household items to levitate some financial pressure. We also need instruments and sound equipment for praise and worship and we also need seating for the services.
So far, no one has donated any money to the campaign, but McCuen says that any donation of bibles, clothing, hygiene products, or anything else that the inmates can use is appreciated.