When you meet Tim Jeffries, the first impression you get is: integrated whole. He’s a man of faith, and he takes the missionary disciple aspect of the Christian Gospels seriously. Which means he introduces himself with no hesitation about what’s most important to him.
So when he goes to Lourdes, he doesn’t ask his colleagues to believe what he believes about Mary and apparitions there. But he does offer to take their intentions with him. To do anything else would be to not be true to who he professes to be. To do otherwise would be to not fully encounter people God has put in his life.
Tim Jeffries’s job is director of the Department of Economic Security in Arizona. And so the Freedom from Religion Foundation took issue with the way he’s been running the department – all in with the love that sustains him — including that Lourdes offer. The attorney general’s office looked into it and responded Friday clearing him of any wrongdoing with a letter that is a bit of a primer on religious liberty.
“It’s my First Amendment right to tell you I’m a Roman Catholic, I’m a devout Christian,” he said. “I believe God has made me to love.”
Jeffries also has a cross on the wall of his personal office. But he rejected the idea that the clearly religious symbol might be intimidating to an employee or someone else who comes to speak with him.
“If I was a bureaucrat, it would be,” he said. “But I’m not. I’m the anti-bureaucrat.”
That, Jeffries said, comes down to his philosophy as DES chief.
“I shepherd this agency like a multimillion-dollar nonprofit,” he said. Anyway, Jeffries said, “there’s still a place for private speech in the workplace, whether it’s government or business.”
It sure sounds a lot more healthy than speech codes and safe zones and trigger warnings other stifling trends of late that pretend to be all about tolerance but are just another kind of bullying, a mainstreaming of comfort with tyranny.
Jeffries told me by e-mail: “I love my Lord, family, country and state. I also love my constitutional freedoms, and will not surrender them to anyone. Faith has a prudent, legal and wonderful place in America’s Public Square, particularly as we lovingly serve The Least.”
There’s got to be a room in government for the likes of Jeffries, who is, by most accounts, getting results with his approach. Good for Arizona.