So Help Me God Challenge Continues In Missouri (March 1998)

On behalf of its Indiana membership, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has put all Indiana county boards on notice: Post the Ten Commandments in your courthouse, only if you plan to post a display saying “There are no gods,” too.
In a memo sent in February by the Foundation to all 92 Indiana county commissioners, the Foundation countered the demands of the “Christian Family Association and Ten Commandments Ministry for Indiana and Ohio” with legal citations.

Art. I, Sections 3 and 4 of the Indiana State Constitution bar any preference by government for “any creed, religious society, or mode of worship.” The prevailing U.S. Supreme Court decision, Stone v. Graham, declared it illegal for government to post the Ten Commandments in public classrooms, because it is “plainly religious in nature.”

“The First Commandment alone demonstrates why its placement in a public courthouse would be unconstitutional,” said Foundation president Anne Gaylor. “Government may not dictate ‘Thou shall have no other gods before me.’ Americans are free to have any god they like, as many gods as they like, or no god at all!”

Gaylor wrote: “Should any counties succumb to pressure tactics to turn courthouses into advertisements for one religion’s teachings, then, on behalf of our Indiana membership, we will pursue a campaign to erect our own ‘equal time’ freethought monument of similar prominence in those courthouses.”

The Foundation has requested an application for a permanent display at the county courthouses in Grant and Hendricks County, where county commissioners have already erected a Ten Commandments display. Additionally, it has requested its display be posted in the courthouse in Morgan County, which is in the process of displaying the biblical decalog.

The Indiana Civil Liberties Union brought suit in November against Grant County for posting the Ten Commandments, then agreed to a settlement permitting the commandments to go on a wall with “other” legal founding documents, such as the Magna Carta and Declaration of Independence. The Foundation has criticized this action for falsely equating one religion’s edicts with historic legal documents, and implying that the United States was founded on the bible. The outcome of a suit against Hendricks county by the ICLU is uncertain.

No responses have been received by commissioners in any of these counties, except through the press.

Grant County Commissioner Dave Glickfield told Judith Cebula of the Indianapolis Star that he will deny the Foundation’s request. A Morgan County commissioner, Jim Bowyer, told the Star, he would deny it also.

The Indiana Chronicle Tribune reported that on Sunday, Feb. 15, 40 protesters gathered at the Grant County Courthouse to condemn the Foundation’s request to place its “no gods” sign.

“If it goes up in courthouse, it will be a curse on this country,” said the Rev. Manuel Hunt, Calvary Missionary Baptist. “If we stand by and let it happen, we’ll deserve it . . . this is spiritual warfare and I pray we stay together . . . you can’t mix witchcraft and Jesus together.”

“That plaque is something Satan told them to do,” the newspaper quoted participant Edd Richard of Marion. “And his time is not long because Jesus is coming.”

The protest was publicized by fliers distributed to local churches.

The Foundation is contemplating a lawsuit over the violations.

The Foundation has sent a similar memo to each of the county commissions in Ohio, where the campaign is also being conducted. The Ten Commandments backers are affiliated with the Christian Family Alliance working with Alabama’s Judge Roy Moore, who has become a Christian cause celebre for praying and posting the Ten Commandments in his courtroom.

Freedom From Religion Foundation