Bible Passage In Public Space Sparked Dispute
The police department in Knoxville has announced that it will remove a religious plaque affixed in one of its downtown located buildings. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has complained about its presence in a place used for public services.
David Rausch, the Knoxville Police Chief, said that the offending plaque will be moved to a new place the department will create specifically for that purpose. The new place is named the ‘Hall of Inspiration’. The plaque will be exhibited alongside other inspirational proverbs, quotes and religious verses.
The FFRF’s East Tennessee chapter filed its complaint in February. The content of the plaque was a Bible quote: “if God is with them, then who can be against them.” The plaque was there for more than 50 years.
Shout out to the East Tennessee chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.https://t.co/Jv5XfnFM17
— Darth Atheist (@VegasSparky357) July 26, 2017
The FFRF sent a total of three letters to the city leaders. The last letter was sent on June 24. It contained a deadline for removal before legal action was taken. The FFRF discovered the plaque’s presence when one of its members visited Knoxville Police Department.
According to Aleta Ledendecker, the chapter president of the local FFRF, the police department was promoting Christianity over other religions. She wrote that it is important that all those who have entered the police station feel they will get equal treatment.
Charles Swanson, the Law Director of Knoxville City, said that the city has the option to defend the presence of the plaque and contest the FFRF claim that it violates the separation of church and state. Swanson said that spending taxpayer money to shore up a defense was not financially feasible.
Madeline Rogero, the Mayor of Knoxville, said that her administration does not govern based on faith, but as per the United States Constitution and State of Tennessee Constitution.