Ten Commandments display
Sullivan County Courthouse
Rutherford County takes down Ten Commandments postings
The Associated Press
MURFREESBORO, TN. - The Ten Commandments have been removed from a display at the Rutherford County Courthouse by a reluctant county commissioner who was following a federal court order. The display was taken down Monday by Commissioner Steven Sandlin, who happened to be there when word came that U.S. District Judge Robert Echols had ruled against the county in a preliminary injunction sought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee. Sandlin said he was unhappy about it, as did other commissioners who voted 16-5 in March to post the biblical laws.
The Ten Commandments were posted April 19 as part of a display of historical documents including the Bill of Rights, the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta and the Preamble of the Tennessee Constitution. "I really think some people may not think some of us do, but those (commissioners) that voted for it do believe in separation of church and state," said Commissioner David Gammon. "But we believe it's a moral issue."
Hedy Weinberg, Tennessee executive director of the ACLU, said removing the Ten Commandments from the display was "a victory for religious freedom." "It underscores the importance of government not promoting religion, as was the case when the Ten Commandments were posted in a public building," she said. ACLU also is seeking a permanent injunction against Rutherford County over the postings and a trial date for that has not been set.
Erik Standly, one of the Liberty Counsel lawyers representing the county, said "We believe that ultimately a display of historical documents containing the Ten Commandments will be found constitutional." The Liberty Counsel is a legal defense group that defends religious freedom. The ruling is the second such victory for the ACLU in Tennessee this year. Last month, another federal judge ordered Hamilton County to remove Ten Commandments plaques from two of its court buildings in Chattanooga.
Copyright June 25 2002
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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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