Roy Exum: A Lesson From Mobile

Monday, June 30, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Several weeks ago the Mobile (Ala.) County Commission, by a vote of 2-to-1, approved a plaque to be displayed in the city’s Government Plaza that will read “In God We Trust.” Since then, there has been a persistent roar throughout the state between people who approve the sign and those who do not.

What is interesting is that with the heated outcry so easy to predict, why on earth did the three county commissioners ever invite such a fight? Before the vote was taken, nine people stood to make comments about the plaque and eight begged the commissioners not to do it, one a minister who admitted “I speak to you as a religious person who opposes this. The First Amendment keeps religion out of government and, most importantly, government out of religion,” Rhett Ellis told the group.

Amanda Scott, who identified herself as an atheist, said she urged the politicians to reject the display because “It will only serve to divide Mobile on religion when we are already so divided on other issues.” Scott suggested they instead adapt the Latin phrase, “E Pluribus Unum,” which translates to “out of many, one” or “one of many” but her plea fell on deaf ears.

Chuck VonDerAhe, a former Catholic priest who is also an atheist, suggested “In Our Citizens We Trust” or “In The Constitution We Trust” but Jerry Carl, a commissioner who voted for the plaque, disagreed, explaining that the word “God” could be anything.

“How does the word God apply to your life?” he asked, explaining that god to some might be money, a bottle of whiskey even, and that it didn’t necessarily mean the Christian God. “All of these religions we have were created by men,” he said, telling those in attendance the phrase was historic and that he "couldn’t understand how it would make anyone uncomfortable.”

David Underhill shook his head, saying when his turn came that the word “God” means a great deal to Muslims, Buddhists and atheists in Mobile. Then he asked the commission to imagine substituting the word God with “Allah” or “Great Spirit” and to “Be instructed by that squirming sensation, which is how people who don’t believe in the Christian God feel when they hear the word.”

According to a lengthy story on the state newspaper wire Al.com, Mobile commissioner Merceria Ludgood said she understood the discomfort. “I cannot in good conscience support this gesture. I believe our role is a secular one. I believe Government Plaza is the people’s house. All should feel comfortable. On a personal note, I’ve always found it interesting the things people do in the name of God. For me, it’s in God I trust. You cannot legislate morality.”

That’s when Commission President Connie Hudson called for support to approve the plaque. “This is the national motto approved by the federal government.” Noting it is printed on our currency, she added, “It’s not meant to be disrespectful.”

Since then the comments on the newspaper’s pages and on social media sites have been exactly what those in the room expected. The pandemonium has included such quips as “If folks actually ‘Trust in God,’ there’s no need to put a plaque on the wall … any wall” and “In God we trust’ should stay! If you don’t like it move to another country and practice your religion. We shouldn’t have to omit things to make you happy. Just leave!”

“It’s hard to argue with the logic. I personally don’t think it matters to the true Father. According to His Son, He’s not big on all that public-display stuff.”

One read, “Religious fools can put up whatever propaganda they want – it won’t sway thinking people. Non-religious people will only laugh when they see the proclamation. Being an atheist, I have little use for the religious, but I have known a few religious folk who impressed me with their belief. By their way of living, they showed their religious beliefs. They did not have to proclaim it with a sign. It was obvious they believed.”

Another: “Look around Alabama and see how many people proclaim their Christianity and then look how the poor, the sickly, and the weak are treated.”

There was this: “This is ridiculous They well know that it will bring a lawsuit which will inevitably be lost. A complete waste of our time and our money.”

So why did the Mobile County Commissioners ever dare such a slippery slope? There is a marvelous lesson to be learned and let’s hope our leaders will use their time and efforts much more wisely.

royexum@aol.com



Flabbergasted By Rape Suspended Sentence

I am flabbergasted. A 15-year-old young lady was raped by a bus driver, to whom we have entrusted our young, and all he gets is a suspended sentence and a GPS ankle bracelet.  Really? What judicial idiot, in their “judicial wisdom,” felt that sentence was appropriate?  Via the Disciplinary Counsel of the Supreme Court of Tennessee- Administrative Office of the Courts, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Hot Cars And Stuff

As of Friday afternoon, there was a one-year-old girl in Birmingham clinging to her life after she was absent-mindedly left in a parked car this week. With an outside temperature in the mid-90s, it is estimated the inside temperature in a locked automobile will be over 140 degrees so please know our Good Samaritan laws give you “a free pass” to bash a window out if you see an infant ... (click for more)

Hixson Man Charged With Sending Threatening Emails To General Sessions Court Judge

A 30-year-old Hixson man has been charged with making threats to kill General Sessions Court Judge Lila Statom after police said they found evidence to tie him to recent threats against the judge. David Lee Graham, of 1730 Colorado St., is charged with retaliation against a judge. His bond was raised to $100,000. Detective Ric Whaley said he had been conducting an investigation ... (click for more)

Man Arrested For Confronting Southside Grocery Employee With Gun

Brandon Jamal Appleberry, 27, was arrested on Monday after an altercation with an employee at Southside Grocery on West 38 th Street, officers said. Marty Witt, 44, told police that the suspect confronted him with a gun in his hand. Officers said security video from the store clearly showed Appleberry arguing with several people outside while holding a gun. The defendant ... (click for more)

Thompson, Mason Win Scenic City Scorcher With Record Times

Saturday was another record-setting day for runners in Chattanooga. The occasion was the second running of the Scenic City Scorcher, a flat and fast two-mile race in Heritage Landing. Last year was the first running of this event and 43 individual state records were broken that day.  There were 63 new marks set on the second time around, including 36 among the males ... (click for more)

CCS Names Eddie Salter, Ben Wharton As New Basketball, Baseball Coaches

Chattanooga Christian School announced that Coach Eddie Salter is returning to the men’s basketball program as the Varsity Head Coach for 2016-2017. He will be joined by Chattanooga Christian alumnus, Ben Wharton, who has been named the Varsity Head Coach of the men’s baseball program and the Junior Varsity Men’s Basketball Coach.  Former Varsity Head Basketball Coach ... (click for more)