Bible Open

Ten Commandments group leader Support feeds on terrorism fears

The Associated Press


CHATANOOGA - A man who makes his living promoting the Ten Commandments said Tuesday that terrorism fears are boosting public enthusiasm for displaying the Biblical scripture.

America is a "nation at war right now," said Charles Wysong, president of Ten Commandments Tennessee, a nonprofit group he organized six years ago. "People are sensing that we must involve God in our decisions. I think there is a proper fear of God."

Wysong held a news conference Tuesday to announce a Ten Commandments rally Dec. 2 at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The rally, in part, is in support of the Hamilton County commission voting - one week after the terrorist attacks - to display the Ten Commandments in public buildings.

Please note that Hamilton County had to remove these religious plaques costing thousands of dollars in legal fees this group promised to pay and didn't.

The rally will include gospel singers, a church choir and remarks by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, the "Ten Commandments Judge" who put a commandments monument in that state's judicial building in August.

Wysong said his group, which he leads with three other directors, wants to see the Ten Commandments in government buildings, public schools, churches and homes. He said the group will raise money at the rally to further that cause. That includes selling Ten Commandment plaques for $39 and yard signs for $5.

"We're not really selling them. We're making them available," Wysong said. "Our stake is not in the financial. Our stake is in the spiritual." He said some of the group's money would be used to help pay legal fees in court fights over displays of the Ten Commandments.

The Tennessee American Civil Liberties Union, with the support of some Chattanooga ministers, expects to file a lawsuit against Hamilton County once the displays are posted, sometime within the next two months.

Tennessee ACLU director Hedy Weinberg said a display of the Ten Commandments at a public building violates the separation of church and state and wrongfully promotes one religion.

Johnson and Greene counties in East Tennessee and Shelby County in West Tennessee display the Ten Commandments. Wysong said all 95 counties should post the commandments. However, he disagreed with a decision by officials in neighboring Ringgold, Ga., to approve a City Hall display of the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer along with an empty picture frame with the engraving: "This is for those of other beliefs."

"I have a problem with that," Wysong said. "This is not a nation founded on many religions. It was founded on the Christian religion."

Ringgold Mayor Joe Barger said the "other beliefs" plaque is intended to make sure nobody is left out. "We tried to cover everybody." Barger said. "We don't know who they are. They are good folks."

Hamilton County commissioner Richard Casavant, the lone dissenter in the 5-1 Vote to display the commandments in county buildings, said using the terrorist attacks to justify posting the scripture was misguided.

"There is no more important time to gain the loyalty of people throughout the world, especially those nations where the enemy, the criminals, the terrorists dwell," he said after the vote. "This is not the Christians versus the world. The name of the game today is to destroy our enemies without creating new ones.


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