AZ Official Tim Jeffries Attacked for Offering to Take Employees’ Prayer Requests to Holy Site in France
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” — essentially prayer requests — 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.
Jeffries is only attempting to help the sick. He is not proselytizing to employees. He isn’t asking for money. Government employees do not check their First Amendment rights at the door when they get to work — in fact, unlike private employees, they have a right to all constitutional protections in the workplace.
This is why the state is allowed to run a charitable campaign and include Christian organizations. The state government itself does more to promote religion than Jeffries could possibly be thought to have done in his email.
Arizona State Government conducts a charity drive every year, encouraging employees to contribute money to a list of approved charities, several of which are religious. The Salvation Army is only the best-known of several Christian charities that state government employees may contribute to. A search on the Arizona State Employees Charitable Campaign website for the word “Christian” turns up Association of Christian Schools International, Chandler Christian Community Center, Christian Freedom International, Christian Legal Society, Christian Military Fellowship Christian Mission Teams International — Compassion and Gospel Outreach, Christian Relief Fund, Christian Relief Services and International Orthodox Christian Charities.
Jeffries may have been singled out because it’s much easier to make one person a target, and his bold leadership at the agency has raised some eyebrows. Since being appointed to director of DES in early 2015, he focused on cleaning up the agency, which had been considered unfixable for over 40 years. He fired hundreds of the 7,700 employees for being “bullies … liars and multi-year bad actors.” So far, DES has exited 344 employees, of which six were arrested for illegal actions such as stealing.
He has also gotten opposition for his op-ed articles refuting claims that reforming welfare will hurt the neediest. After the San Bernardino terrorist attack, which occurred at a similar type of social services agency, Jeffries increased the number of DES offices with armed guards from 26 to 50, with more planned. After the Brussels massacre, Jeffries unilaterally approved all colleagues — he refers to employees as his colleagues — to carry mace or pepper spray. Employees who formerly worked in law enforcement will be authorized to carry firearms.
Jeffries has a long history of advocating for crime victims. When he was in college, his older brother, who was also his best friend, was murdered at age 22, stabbed 65 times. See this for the story of his coming to forgive his brother’s killers.
Jeffries never hesitates to articulate the consequential nature of his eight years of Jesuit education. “The Jesuits not only changed my life, they saved it,” he told The Stream. “In their honor, with thanksgiving for Our Merciful Lord, I will always seek to ‘Be a Man for Others’ even if it invites persecution.”
He’s gotten about 200 requests, the Phoenix New Times reported. “THANK YOU for the humbling honor,” he wrote, explaining that his DES special assistant “is tracking all of them, and will make absolutely certain that I hand carry them to Southern France.”
Sent: Sunday, April 10, 2016 3:27 PM
To: *All DES Employees
Happy Sunday, my dear friends and colleagues.
Some of you may recall that my beloved wife Mary Frances and I are members of the Order of Malta. Among the many things, the 968 year history of the Order continues to amaze, humble and inspire us. The Order was founded in Jerusalem in 1048 AD, and granted papal recognition in 1113 AD. The Order’s global works for the poor and the sick frame, fuel and sustain us!! In fact, a couple of my tattoos are inspired by the Order, one reads “OBSEQUIUM PAUPERUM” which literally means “Obedience to the Poor” and the sick.
Every year towards the end of April, the global Order brings the seriously afflicted and dying from our respective countries to Lourdes, France where we lovingly serve them for 8 days. As a result, we seek to lighten their ofttimes incomprehensibly heavy burdens, and bring light to darkness that can surely seem to never end. Quite thankfully, this will be my 7th year in a row of humble service, and I promise to carry all of you in my heart when I am serving those in great need.
If you are comfortable, I would be immensely honored to carry your special intentions to the Grotto at Massabielle on the River Gave in Lourdes. If you are moved to do this, simply place your special intentions in a MS Word document, then PDF the private document. Upon doing so, please email the PDF to me. I promise that your private intentions will not be read. Your special intentions will be printed, and placed in a confidential envelope for my humble delivery to the Grotto.
Thank you again for all of your support, engagement, encouragement and kindness. I have never felt so loved by so many. I hope you feel loved too. Together, we are the very best.
Joyfully in service,
DITAT DEUS 🙂