The Freedom From Religion Foundation has written a letter to Mayor Joe Barger of Ringgold asking the city to remove the Ten Commandments,
Lord's Prayer, and blank frame from the walls of City Hall.
The letter from the Madison, Wis.-based group says:
Mayor Joe Barger
City of Ringgold
150 Tennessee St.
Ringgold GA 30736
November 9, 2001
Dear Mayor Barger,
On behalf of members of our Foundation who live in your area, we are writing to complain about your city's decision to mount religious
messages on the walls of City Hall. We are a national organization of
freethinkers working to keep state and church separate.
It is not the business of a secular city government to promote religion.
The Ten Commandments are a religious document, establishing the nation of Israel and adopted by Christians. The City of Ringgold is neither a
Jewish nor a Christian government.
The opening words of the Ten Commandments should be all the evidence you need that they are inappropriate: "I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods before me." In America, no government can declare what god people should worship, or whether they should worship any god at all.
The United States Supreme Court, in Stone v. Graham (449 U.S. 39,
November 17, 1980), wrote very clearly:
"The pre-eminent purpose for posting the Ten Commandments on schoolroom walls is plainly religious in nature. The Ten Commandments is undeniably a sacred text in the Jewish and Christian faiths, and no legislative
recitation of a supposed secular purpose can blind us to that fact.
The Commandments do not confine themselves to arguably secular matters, such as honoring one's parents, killing or murder, adultery, stealing, and covetousness. Rather, the first part of the Commandments concerns the religious duties of believers: worshipping the Lord God alone, avoiding idolatry, not using the Lord's name in vain, and observing the sabbath day."
It should be equally obvious that the Lord's Prayer, the words of Jesus, endorses one religious point of view, and is therefore not secular in
nature. The insulting blank frame for "those of other beliefs"
marginalizes non-Christians and excludes all unbelievers. They are just as unconstitutional as the Ten Commandments.
Please remove these displays from the walls of City Hall. May we hear
from you soon on this matter?
Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.
PO Box 750
Madison WI 53701