A couple of weeks ago, in Wyoming County, West Virginia, a group of church leaders built a Ten Commandments monument in front of the county courthouse. They did it without permission from county officials, a detail that makes this story all the more disturbing.
(Of course, even if they had received permission, it wouldn’t have made it okay.)
This is a pretty easy fix — either the church group needs to get that monument off the property, or the floodgates have opened and any group that wants to can put up a monument of their own.
County officials aren’t even considering that second option yet because they’re under the impression there’s nothing illegal about this. The best part is how one official is justifying it:
Wyoming County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Cochrane said he researched the topic and advised the County Commission to leave it alone for now.
Cochrane said the issue is whether the monument promotes Christianity over other religions, and he doesn’t think it does.
The group who raised money and erected the monument wanted to spread a message of good morality and not Christianity, he said.
Cochrane asked his Facebook friends for feedback and about 280 people of 300 responded in favor of the monument. Those who opposed feared it violates separation of church and state, he said.
Well, shit, no confirmation bias there at all. We should settle all disputes this way. Hey, guess what? 86% of my Twitter followers don’t believe in God! Take that, Bible!
He’s not the only who doesn’t get that your friends don’t decide how the law works. Wyoming County Commissioner Silas Mullins also appears to have failed his Basic Statistics class:
“There’s a lot of banter about separation of church and state,” Mullins said. “The Supreme Court doesn’t make a law, they make a ruling. People in the ACLU try to enforce that as a law.”
He noted that in a recent Charleston Gazette poll “almost 75 percent of the answers were in the affirmative.”
Whoa! An online poll! The least credible way to gather data…
The ACLU of WV isn’t buying Cochrane’s Facebook Defense. They, like anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of the law, know that this is just blatant promotion of religion. This time, the Christians can’t even claim it has any historical value since it was just put up a couple of weeks ago:
ACLU-West Virginia chapter staff attorney Sarah Rogers tells the Charleston Gazette that there are constitutional concerns. She says government property is being used to advocate one religion over another.
So I guess American Atheists should swoop in and erect a bench right next to the monument.
Should be pretty easy to do since they don’t even need permission to do it.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)
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