Earlier this month, The Blaze told you about a drama unfolding between the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an atheist and freethinking group based in Wisconsin, and a local government in North Carolina. The non-believing group is demanding that officials remove a Ten Commandments plaque that is hanging in the Newland Town Hall.
In an interview with the Avery Journal's Matthew Hundley, FFRF's co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor doubled down on the group's stance, claiming that the Ten Commandments plaque “belongs in a church" or a private home.
So far, though, the town has not complied with the demand and is carefully reviewing the group's request. Currently, town officials are relying upon legal advice as they weigh the pros and cons associated with the plaque's presence in the public building.
“Upon the advice of the town's attorney we are not making any comments now,” claims Newland Mayor Valerie Jaynes.
When asked what would happen if the town refused to remove the plaque, Gaylor seemed more than confident.
"We are more optimistic than you. We are an educational group, a state/church watchdog," she said. "We find that often (all that is needed is) a little bit of a wake-up call or a letter to public officials who are unknowingly or unwittingly violating the Constitution."
Then, she proceeded to express her group's stated successes at stripping Ten Commandments displays from public venues.
“We have had great success," Gaylor explained. "We have removed 10 Commandments all around the country."
Gaylor argues that McCreary County vs. ACLU, a 2005 Supreme Court case, already settled this matter in the atheists' favor (you can read more about this case here).
“The government has no business telling you what god to worship, how many gods to worship or whether to worship any god at all," she continued, railing against the presence of the religious document in the Newland Town Hall. "If you want to take the Lord's name in vain in your own home, then go ahead. The government can't tell you not to do that."
Hundley, though, started getting into specifics. He asked Gaylor how she would feel if a religious item were present inside of a public employee's office rather than in a highly-visible area. In this case, the atheist leader said she may still be opposed.
"That can be workplace discrimination if it is a government employee's office," she explained. "Sometimes, you see things like a tiny nativity scene on somebody's personal desk, but if they are dealing with the public or a lot of employees, that is still a no-no because that is still private property using the city to promote their viewpoint."
Of course, she ended by claiming that the founding fathers would have never wanted such displays.
"We have no Ten Commandments in our foundational documents, in our Constitution," she said. "Our founders did not want religion and government to mix."
This interview follows a Feb. 7 letter that was written to the town by FFRF staff attorney Patrick Elliot. In it, he said, in part, “I’m writing…to urge you to immediately remove the Ten Commandments plaque from Newland Town Hall…Anyone entering the building for necessary government business will be confronted by it.”
(H/T: Avery Journal)