CLEVELAND, Tenn. (AP) — An eastern Tennessee sheriff's Facebook post celebrating Easter has made a group of atheists $15,000 richer.
News organizations report that Bradley County reached a settlement Thursday with the American Atheists organization over Sheriff Eric Watson's post on the department's Facebook page over Easter.
The atheist group and an unidentified resident said Watson violated their First Amendment rights by posting, in reference to Jesus, the message "He is risen" and deleting detractors' comments.
The American Atheists said in a news release that Bradley County will pay $15,000 in damages and $26,000 in legal fees. The group also says the sheriff's office has agreed to not promote any religious belief.
In a statement, Watson denied violating the plaintiffs' rights. He says the settlement was a business decision made by the county.