The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).





Of Bradley County Tn.


NOVEMBER  2003

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.

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Counties Fight Back

Tennessee counties push for legislation to officially recognize God.

by Karin Miller

NASHVILLE (AP) -- A resolution recognizing "God as the foundation of our  national heritage" has been approved by several Tennessee county governments and is being considered by others.


Trousdale County Executive Jerry Clift expects his county commission to pass the legislation overwhelmingly Monday. "It's basic. We're in the Bible Belt. We go to church and believe in God," he said Wednesday. "We want to let the people of the state know our beliefs."

The idea originated in Greene County, where Mayor Roger Jones sent copies of legislation unanimously approved by the commission last month to Tennessee's other 94 county government leaders. Jones said he was prompted by constituent concerns about efforts to delete "God" from the Pledge of Allegiance and the recent federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from

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the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building.

Several Tennessee county governments recently passed resolutions approving the posting of the Ten Commandments in government buildings. Hamilton County was ordered to remove its plaque, but such displays remain in others as court battles continue.

"The citizens in our county read and watch the news and they just kept talking to me and other commissioners. We felt it was time for us to listen to our citizens and take a stance. That's what we've done," Jones said.

He said the resolution was drafted carefully so that it doesn't require any action or interfere with the Constitution's ban against government promotion of religious doctrine. "Our country was founded with God. God has been good to us and we need to keep him there," Jones said. "I understand the need to protect individual rights but we're living in a representative democracy. We're not telling anybody they've got to believe in God. But it's not fair to take from us what has made this country strong and proud for 200 years."

The resolution urges citizens to proclaim government's "responsibility to publicly recognize God as the foundation of our national heritage ... LEST OUR NATION FORGET AND OUR CHILDREN NEVER KNOW!"

It notes the federal government was "founded upon a trust in God" and that Congress added the phrase "one nation under God" to the Pledge and established the national motto.

But Hedy Weinberg, state director of the American Civil Liberties Union, says county governments shouldn't promote or endorse a particularly deity. She said the nation's founders wanted to protect the rights of minorities as well as the majority, and that Congress acted in the 1950s amid fears of "godless communistic countries." "Today we live in a wonderfully pluralistic society and this type of initiative is divisive. It certainly doesn't recognize members of minority religions or nonbelievers," she said.

Weinberg plans to send a letter asking county commissions not to approve the resolution.

It's too late in some.

Dyer County Mayor Richard Hill said the county's legislative body approved the resolution 20-0 earlier this month. "We feel like this is what the country was founded on and it's imperative that those of us who really believe this is the foundation of government need to reaffirm that," Hill said.

There has been no negative reaction and plenty of folks have told him they were proud county officials took such action. "They're trying to take the word 'God' out of the Pledge of Allegiance. I don't believe that. I'm a veteran. They don't need to take our rights away because they're objecting.
"If they object, that's their prerogative, but I don't think they should tell us what to do," Hill said.

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Would you support state legislation proclaiming government's responsibility to publicly recognize God as the foundation of our national heritage.

The People News
PO Box 3921
Cleveland TN. 37320
(423) 559-2150  Fax 559-1044

Editor/Publisher, Pete Edwards
Copyright 2003 (All rights reserved)

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