Ten Commandments display
Sullivan County Courthouse
Watch your tongue in Blountville
Steve Phelps 7/10/99
Dan Street, the Sullivan County attorney, is recommending that county commissioners not file a libel and slander suit against Lewis Loflin, a Bristol Virginia deist who has been attending commission meetings of late.
Loflin has been harshly critical of the commission's decision to let a Baptist group post the Ten Commandments in the Courthouse. Among other things, he has accused commissioners of being followers of the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Loflin says he's just exercising his right to criticize public officials. Commissioners, who voted without dissent to ask Street to look into a possible suit, disagree.
The commission might or might not win such a case, according to Street. But the county attorney said he wouldn't rule out such a lawsuit in the future: "I don't think (commissioners) when they volunteer their time ... should be expected to expose themselves to assaults on their character."
Commissioner Mike Gonce said he agrees with Street, also noting: "I think it puts people on warning they can't say or do anything they please that isn't factual or truthful. Hopefully, people will be more guarded with what they say."
By the way, the Bill of Rights will be posted along with the Ten Commandments. The commission might consider reviewing the First Amendment - letter and spirit.
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Quoting the Kingsport Times-News (1-18-2004)
Sullivan County Tennessee attorney Dan Street on the Ten Commandments,
"It seems clearer and clearer and clearer that we are promoting a particular religion, and that's a violation of the Constitution. The Constitution is the one document that protects minorities, and just because most people feel the Christian faith or the Jewish faith is the right faith, that doesn't mean they have a right to impose it on everyone else.
Plenty of Christians and Jews who may follow the Ten Commandments, but don't believe they should be displayed in public buildings. Most of the time, however, those people don't come forward with their opinion because they are afraid of being chastised. People think if you want the Ten Commandments down you're an atheist, and that's just not true.
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