Ten Commandments display
Sullivan County Courthouse
Commandments will come down at Hamilton County Courthouse
The Associated Press 5-11-2001
CHATTANOOGA A One week after a federal judge ordered Hamilton County commissioners to remove Ten Commandments plaques from two court buildings, they remained on the walls. Commissioner Curtis D. Adams predicted Friday that a majority of the nine commissioners would vote to remove the stone tablet-shaped plaques. He said the commissioners likely would decide on Wednesday.
"We talked about putting the Ten Commandments up to encourage people to obey Judge ordered Tennessee county to remove plaques the laws of the land," Adams said. "We would not be obeying the laws if we refused" to remove the plaques.
U.S. District Judge Allan Edgar on May 1 ordered in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union that the commission remove Ten Commandments plaques from the Hamilton County Courthouse and the county-city courts building. He gave no deadline for action. The commissioners Thursday discussed but didn't decide on a possible appeal.
County Attorney Rheubin Taylor did not immediately return a telephone message Friday seeking comment about the commission's intentions to obey the order. The ACLU, which is also challenging a Ten Commandments posting at the Rutherford County Courthouse, contends the displays violate religious freedom and are divisive to religious diversity.
More than half of Tennessee's 95 counties have approved similar displays and more than 30 have posted the biblical laws. While Edgar's order applies only to Hamilton County, ACLU officials have said they hope it will be heeded by other county commissions. A federal judge in Nashville is considering a preliminary injunction petition by the ACLU to force removal of a Ten Commandments display in Rutherford County's courthouse. Adams said Hamilton commissioners have approved similar displays and more than 30 have posted the biblical laws.
While Edgar's order applies only to Hamilton County, ACLU officials have said they hope it will be heeded by other county commissions. A federal judge in Nashville is considering a preliminary injunction petition by the ACLU to force removal of a Ten Commandments display in Rutherford County's courthouse. Adams said Hamilton commissioners have promised that taxpayers would not have to pay any expenses related to the legal fight. When we lost...we have to pay the ACLU lawyers," he said. "We have to spend $20,000 to $25,000. We've got to worry about people donating that money to pay that."
In January, Charles Wysong Jr. said his Ten Commandments-Tennessee group intended to pay any legal costs. Wysong said last week he was unsure if money raised by the group, which has sold signs defending the displays, would be used.
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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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