On Tuesday, the first “In God We Trust” sign was unveiled over the entrance of the Anderson County Courthouse in Tennessee, and three more were scheduled to be put up yesterday.
Guess what? There’s already a lawsuit to have them taken down.
But it wasn’t filed by an atheist or church/state separation group.
Instead, it was filed by a lawyer for… um… this guy:
Kenneth Darrin Fisher, 22, of Clinton is accused of the attempted first-degree murder of his wife and illegal possession of an assault rifle, and his case is due to go trial next spring.
Through attorney David Stuart, Fisher filed a motion in Anderson County Criminal Court on Wednesday seeking to dismiss all charges against him, asserting that the signs violate his freedom of worship rights under the U.S. and Tennessee constitutions. The motion states that Fisher is a blood member of the Cherokee Nation and a follower of “a Red Road” faith.
… Fisher, a military veteran who served in Afghanistan, says that he is offended by the “Constitutional affront” presented by the signs and objects to “being reminded that they have judged him as being destined to go to hell every time he passes through one of the entryways to the courthouse.”
(In case you’re curious like I was, for Cherokees, the “Red Road is the path we walk on when we want a direct relationship with the Great Spirit.”)
While it makes me uncomfortable to take the side of someone accused of murder, this is precisely the kind of concern county officials should be ready to deal with — the idea that non-Christians will not feel like they’re being judged fairly when they enter the courthouse.
This particular lawsuit is calling for charges against Fisher to be dropped altogether. If the signs stay up, he says he won’t be treated fairly. If the signs come down (permanently or temporarily), he says he’ll be blamed for it and not be treated fairly.
Have fun with that one, Anderson County.
Even if this lawsuit gets thrown out, it probably won’t be the last. There was no good reason for the signs to go up in the first place and county officials should brace themselves for more legal battles.