FFRF objects to religious displays in Missouri government office

1CamdenCounty

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter asking a Missouri county clerk to remove religious iconography from a public office in the building.

A concerned complainant contacted FFRF to report that two religious images were prominently displayed in the Camden County Clerk’s office in Camdenton, Mo. The first is a framed New Testament verse superimposed over an American flag, which reads: “Greater love hath no man than this, that one would lay their life down for another. John 15:13.” This display was placed near the ballot box for absentee voting. The second display is a wall-length Sept. 11 memorial that features a large Latin cross at its center.

FFRF Legal Fellow Colin McNamara sent a letter to the county clerk’s office on Nov. 9, 2018, asking that these religious displays be removed, since they represent an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

“The county clerk’s office cannot fulfill its mission of serving all members of the community while also sponsoring a message that excludes minority religious and nonreligious citizens who represent 30 percent of the population,” McNamara wrote in his letter.

FFRF was notified earlier this week that the clerk’s office has since moved the scripture display to the “non-public” workspace of an employee, but plans to leave the cross display in place.

While FFRF is pleased that Camden County has taken at least one step towards constitutional compliance by removing the bible quote poster from public space, the concern surrounding the religious 9/11 memorial persists.

“FFRF’s position remained unchanged,” McNamara says. “For as long as the cross painting remains in place, Camden County remains in violation of the Establishment Clause.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 31,000 members across the country, including over 300 members in Missouri. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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