Commission should rescind vote on Commandments
Lewis Loflin, the Bristol, VA., resident, who represents something called the World Union of Deists of Bristol, may come across as a bit extreme. But the central point he made to the Sullivan County Commission last week is nonetheless valid. Loflin told commissioners that since they had approved a religious plaque for the county courthouse, he wanted equal treatment. What he got instead was the threat of a lawsuit.
And so we now have in Sullivan County a government which is endorsing a particular religious belief in the form of a public monument to it, and which threatens legal action against those who object. County residents should take serious note of this situation. It is not only frightening, but represents an attack on religious liberty for all Americans.
What if this were - as is the case in many locales in America - a region where the predominant religion was Buddhism? What if a majority of the county commission were Buddhists, and voted to place a bronze image of Buddha in the county courthouse? And what if a Christian resident appeared before that commission asking to be allowed to place a symbol of his religious faith in the courthouse? And what if the commission voted to entertain a lawsuit against that resident?
It is precisely because its Constitution prohibits government sanction of religion that America has avoided the religious wars, which throughout history have killed millions and destroyed nations. In this country, no matter our ethnicity or faith, we have equal rights. Were that not so, America would not stand today.
County commissioners should know that. They surely knew in resolving that a plaque containing the Ten Commandments be placed in a government building that they were endorsing a particular religious philosophy and violating the spirit and letter of the law. But they lacked the backbone to vote against it because they were afraid they would be painted as somehow godless. That is why they sat silent last Monday as Commissioner Mike Gonce moved that the county attorney investigate legal action against Loflin's "lies."
It is why they have put at risk the right of all to worship as they choose: as do those who rail for prayer in schools when students already can pray in school or anywhere else they choose; or who preach the need for America to return to "religious values" - their religious values. There is time for the commission to undo its terrible wrong and rescind its vote. People of faith - all faiths - should insist on it.
Kingsport Times-News Our View June 27, 1999
Quoting the Kingsport Times-News (1-18-2004)
"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.