Here’s an interesting twist in the Let’s-Put-The-Ten-Commandments-On-the-Courthouse-Lawn Department.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has registered a complaint with Chippewa County, Wisconsin to have a recently erected monument removed from outside the Courthouse. This is a little different than the usual case. By “usual”, I mean, it’s not another monument to religion instigated by someone who thinks that their particular religion is just so awesome, that no one in their right mind would ever disagree with the religious sentiment imposed on them and the rest of the public if it would be innocently placed on property paid for by all taxpayers. Yes, there is the clear invocation of a specific religious belief, and yes, as you would expect it’s a Christian one, and yes, it’s on a monument, and yes, the monument is now on public property for all to see.
The difference here is that it’s a monument to a person who actually lived, and died in service to the public. All well and good. The problem is that on the back of the monument, there is a quotation from the deceased public servant, to wit:
“I don’t feel I have gone too soon. I feel lucky everyday God keeps me here. When I die, I know where I”m going. Don’t be sad because the bible says it’s greater than anyone can even imagine when it’s your time to see it. You will. But never before it. Don’t do anything stupid! I want to make sure I see all of you again someday. You must ask Jesus into your heart, believe he died for you and believe he rose again. Live a good life. Ask for forgiveness and believe that I will see you all again. I love you all and thank God for the time I had with each and everyone of you. I love you all. I thank you all for a good life.”
I have a hard time believing this is an actual quote from the deceased, who died the day after being struck by a vehicle. When exactly did he wake up in the hospital, realize he was about to die, and have the presence of mind to give a quote like that? It’s reads like he knew someone was going to quote him, and even better, take his quote and put it in a prominently displayed public location. Or are we to believe that he said this at some time before his death when he was in a philosophical mood, and wanted to make a lasting impression in case he died?
Perhaps he was at a party, a bit in his cups, feeling a little morose, when he lifted his head off the table and said: You must ask Jesus into your heart, believe he died for you and believe he rose again. Live a good life. Ask for forgiveness and believe that I will see you all again.
Yes. That must be it. People say that all the time when they have no expectation of death, at the age of 31.
Who am I kidding? Someone thought that a nice monument to religion would look good in that spot, but given the recent spate of cases objecting to the Ten Commandments, another monument to Biblical Law was not the way to go. Too expensive, once you add in all those attorneys fees. But if we put up a nice monument to a fallen public servant, who in their right mind would have the balls to object to a little religious proselytizing while in the process of commemorating the man?
Apparently, the FFRF. As Annie Laurie Gaylor told the County:
“It’s very appropriate to memorialize this deputy, but not to memorialize his religious beliefs. It doesn’t matter that (the monument) was donated. When it goes on government property, it gives off the appearance that government is endorsing his views.”
I think she was being kind. Or maybe she just didn’t want to offend them by pointing out what a put-up job it clearly was, or by asking for proof that the man actually was responsible for the quote.
Though, even if he was, the result should still be the same.
The county is going to leave it there for a month, but if there is litigation, they will look to the deceased man’s family to shoulder the costs. It’s doubtful they’ll do that, unless some Christian organization offers to pay the tab.
Don’t be surprised if one does.