Kentucky county clerk needs to get rid of Ten Commandments poster

1bathcountytencommThe Freedom From Religion Foundation is asking a Kentucky county clerk to get rid of a Ten Commandments poster prominently on display in his office.

A large, framed version of the Ten Commandments is conspicuously on view at the Bath County clerk’s office. It can be seen behind the service counter and is directly underneath a framed picture of “IN GOD WE TRUST.”

The Ten Commandments poster breaches the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, FFRF points out.

“In McCreary County v. ACLU, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a modern display of the Ten Commandments in two Kentucky courthouses violated the U.S. Constitution,” FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott writes to Bath County Clerk Roger Coyle. “The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a permanent injunction against such displays in 2010, finding that the counties acted with an impermissible religious purpose.” 

The Ten Commandments are reportedly not a part of a larger, comprehensive display, and were originally solely on exhibition. So, a reasonable observer would view it as an endorsement of religion by the county, FFRF asserts. By placing this display directly inside its governmental offices, the county is unmistakably sending a message that it gives the display its stamp of approval. The government has no business telling citizens which god they must have, how many gods they must have or that they must have any god at all.

The religious message of the Ten Commandments is obvious, as the Supreme Court made clear in its McCreary decision.

“They proclaim the existence of a monotheistic God,” it wrote. “They regulate details of religious obligation. And they unmistakably rest even the universally accepted prohibitions on the sanction of the divinity proclaimed at the beginning of the text.”

Bath County needs to get rid of the display at once.

“To have the Ten Commandments on view in a government office is to thrust a particular type of religiosity into all visitors’ faces,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The First Commandment alone shows why this display is unconstitutional. Bath County citizens may have any gods as they like, as many gods as they like, or none at all.”

Kentucky has recently been demanding FFRF’s attention on the Ten Commandments issue. Just a few weeks ago, the organization asked the Trigg County clerk to take down a Ten Commandments painting from her office, which was removed following FFRF’s complaint. And not too far back, FFRF had a Ten Commandments display taken out from the Rockcastle County Courthouse after an objection from the nontheist group. 

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit dedicated to the separation of state and church, with almost 24,000 members all over the country, including nearly 200 and a chapter in Kentucky.


Freedom From Religion Foundation

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