New Jersey Toll Collector Ordered to Stop Saying “God Bless You”

New Jersey Turnpike

A toll collector in New Jersey said she was ordered to stop using, “God bless you” after her boss found out that is how she greeted drivers at the tollbooth.

“As they leave, I said, ‘Have a good day, God bless you. ...He told me he wanted to talk to me, that I couldn’t say, ‘God bless you,’ anymore to customers because somebody might get offended,’” said Cynthia Fernandez.

Fernandez quit her job as a toll collector on September 7. According to the spokesman of Garden State Parkway, Fernandez never complained about this particular conversation with her boss Henry Lee. While leaving her job, she said it was because she could not be given a permanent shift. The spokesman also clarified that the agency has no policy that forbids toll collectors from saying “God bless you.”

“It does say, ‘Provide customer service, smile’ – it does say all that,” Fernandez said. “But it does not say in any line, ‘Do not say, ‘God bless you.’”

While residents in New Jersey said they have no problem with the phrase, which has religious connotations, a group of atheist advocates said the state agency should have a policy that instructs employees against using such phrases as it blurs the line between church and state.

“When a government employee says, ‘God bless you,’ they’re implying that that’s the government’s position,” said David Muscato of the group American Atheists. “And because of the First Amendment — because of the separation of religion and government – it’s necessary for the government to remain secular and neutral.”

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

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