@sarahhuckabeesander / Instagram

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is serving her first term as Governor of Arkansas, stirred controversy after posting a picture of her three children standing behind a chalk cross they had drawn outside the Arkansas Governor’s mansion. The governor captioned it, saying, “New artwork to welcome people into the Governor’s mansion! So proud of how hard the kids worked and how well their masterpiece turned out!” The post brought the ire of the group Americans United, a non-profit that seeks “to protect the right of everyone to believe as they want — and stop anyone from using their beliefs to harm others.” The group posted to its Twitter that it had sent Sanders a letter, stating, “The religious display at the entrance to the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion violates the Establishment Clause because it sends a message that the Governor’s office—and by extension, the state of Arkansas—favors one religion over others. Such favoritism is unconstitutional. We, therefore, ask that you remove this display.” 

The letter went on to add, “You and your family are free to display and create religious images and art in private areas of your residence, but a public-facing display in front of an entrance intended ‘to welcome people into the Governor’s mansion’ is plainly on the wrong side of the constitutional line. We, therefore, ask that you remove this display.” Sanders responded to Americans United with her own letter. “I have received your letter, and my answer is no,” she stated. “I will not erase the beautiful cross my kids drew in chalk on the driveway of the Governor’s Mansion or remove my post on social media, and I will not now or ever hide that I am a Christian, saved by Christ.” She went on to say that Americans United was “wrong to claim that our Constitution prevents public officials, let alone their families, from making earnest expressions of religious faith. Our founding documents are riddled with religious language – stating plainly that the very rights you claim to defend are ‘endowed by our Creator.’ You are asking me to ignore that truth and hide a crucial part of my identity and the identity of my kids. That, I will not do.”

She finished her letter stating that she would stand up to “bullying:”

“We won’t let you power-wash our kids’ chalk drawings off our front steps. We won’t let you tear down Christmas decorations and stomp our traditions into the dirt. We don’t live our lives in fear of strongly worded letters coming down from Washington. I am offended by the implication that, just because I am a Christian, I am somehow a bigot. All people of all faiths are welcome in our state. All Arkansans are welcome in the Governor’s Mansion. We are all citizens of this same great country – one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

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