PORT WENTWORTH, Ga. (WSAV) – Surrounded by pastors, politicians and friends – and armed with a petition of 34,000 signatures – former Port Wentworth police officer Jacob Kersey is demanding an apology after what he’s calling a “forcible resignation” from his job.

“They said either censor your religious speech or lose your job,” Kersey’s attorney, Courtney Jones, told News 3.

On Jan. 2, Kersey made a Facebook post from his personal account about his beliefs on marriage. He says he was given an ultimatum, take down the post or lose his job.

He resigned from his position on Jan. 17.

“I was off duty when I expressed these religious beliefs,” said Kersey, “if you can’t speak your religion then you do not have religious freedom, and this nation was founded on religious freedom.”

Friday, a prayer service was held outside city hall before the group headed inside to give the petition to the city manager.

“We’re here to show the city that there are Americans across the state of Georgia and the nation who are concerned about what occurred and that they want answers,” said Kersey.

In addition to a public apology, Kersey is issuing a letter to the city demanding a public statement committing to respect the first amendment rights of its officers and an official change of policy.

It’s even gotten the attention of former politicians, like Jody Hice, who served as the U.S. representative for Georgia’s 10th congressional district from 2015 to 2023.

“We are standing with Jacob Kersey,” said Hice, “we are living in an era, unfortunately, where we’re seeing more and more hostility to people of faith and the ability for people to live their faith in the public square.”

He says this speaks to a broader nationwide discussion of freedom of religion.

“This is happening all over the country,” Hice added. “Just this past week we had an outspoken voice in California saying any Christian who hold biblical beliefs should not be a teacher.”

News 3 reached out to both the city of Port Wentworth and the Port Wentworth Police Department for comment, and neither could be reached.