Some residents in Sylvania, Alabama, were up in arms last month when the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) demanded that a Bible verse be removed from four of the town’s signs. After initially bowing to the atheists’ demands, officials are now reversing course and keeping the verse — Ephesians 4:5 — posted on the government placards.
The FFRF originally sent a letter to the town claiming that the inclusion of the verse is unconstitutional. In a prompt response, the portions of the signs that included the words, which read, “One Lord, One Faith, and One Baptism,” were painted over. The town’s former mayor, Mitchell Dendy, like many political leaders in towns that face backlash from secular groups like the FFRF, decided that Sylvania simply couldn’t afford a costly legal battle over the signs.
So Dendy, who has since resigned in the midst of misconduct allegations, made the unilateral decision to take the Bible verses down. However, his decision, which was made without the town’s council, became an instant controversy. Residents, frustrated with the decision, flooded the town will angry calls.
The Christian Post has more about the town’s change-of-heart:
A small town in Alabama has decided to put up welcome signs that have Bible verses despite questions about the constitutionality of the signs brought up by a national atheist organization.
Town council members in Sylvania, Ala., voted unanimously on Tuesday to replace the four signs that former mayor Mitchell Dendy had removed two weeks ago before he resigned. […]
Max Turner, the current acting mayor of Sylvania, told The Christian Post on Wednesday that the town’s council voted unanimously to overturn Dendy’s decision so that the signs, or at least ones like them, can be restored to their proper places.
Some residents were so stirred by the incident that they took to their front yards to post Biblical signs of their own. But now, in the wake of the original letter, the FFRF’s next steps are uncertain, especially considering that Christian messaging is slated to reappear on the government signs.
If the battle does make its way to court, Tom Brejcha, the president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, says that Sylvania will have a better chance of success if a historical Christian history can be proven.
“These things are defensible when put into a historical context. This is probably a town founded by Christians and it has a strong Christian heritage,” Brejcha said in an interview with The Christian Post. “[The FFRF is] of the mistaken view that the First Amendment guarantees us freedom from religion, which is wrong. The truth is that it stands for freedom of religion, and that’s a distinction that’s lost on them.”
(H/T: Christian Post)