County Commission approves God resolution

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff

Forget about Carter County facing a lawsuit over a Ten Commandments statue. The county doesn't own one, and it probably never will. However, a citizen has taken a stand to show his support for the commonly called "God Resolution" by offering to place a statue of the Ten Commandments on his property, which is conveniently located next to the Carter County Courthouse.
   Ed Peters owns a house beside the courthouse and offered to place the statue on his property in support of the God Resolution. Recent controversy forced an Alabama lawmaker to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments, but since Peters' property is not county courthouse property, he can place the statue on his yard, porch, or even on the sidewalk without fear of being forced to remove it.
   The opportunity arose when Commissioner Tom "Yogi" Bowers proposed during Monday evening's commission meeting to adopt a God Resolution in Carter County similar to the one passed in Greene County.
   Greene County passed the initial resolution stating, "Our Government was founded upon a trust in God, that began when our Founding Fathers proclaimed in America's first official document, our Declaration of Independence, that our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, were not given to us by government, but by God 'our Creator', the Sovereign Judge of the Universe."
   Despite a warning from County Attorney George Dugger about a permanent injunction placed on the county in 1988, the commissioners overwhelmingly approved the motion with 19 yes votes, none opposed, and two commissioners, Jo Ann Blankenship and Charlie Bayless, passing.
   A permanent injunction was ordered against the county and the school system by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hull prohibiting citizens from holding religious activities on public school property during school hours.
   Bowers said before the resolution passed, "The resolution is in no way throwing religion in anyone's face. And it in no way violates the injunction in Carter County. It is just recognizing the fact that the country was founded in the belief in God."
   Bowers stated that he had discussed the resolution with Greene County Mayor Roger Jones, who stated that he presented the original resolution to the local and national ACLU which said they did not have a problem with the resolution.
   Dugger replied, "If the ACLU has no problem, then I have no problem with it. I agree with the resolution, but unfortunately we are in a unique situation. But I needed to inform you (of the legal situation), and I have informed you."
   Commissioner Joe Woods said, "You got to trust in God and you won't lose a lawsuit."
   The vote was taken at 10:30 p.m. with Commissioners Doug Buckles, Jack Buckles, Lawrence Hodge, Wayne Holtsclaw, Amos Stephens, Al Meehan, Woods, Jim Whaley, Jerry Pearman, Chuck Culler, Bowers, Terry Montgomery, John Lewis, John Snyder, Lynn Tipton, Richard Tester, Bill Armstrong, Robert Davis and Roy Merryman voting yes to adopt the resolution.
   After the vote County Mayor Dale Fair said, "I would be glad to sign this."
   Due to press deadlines, please read Wednesday's edition for a follow up story on Monday's commission meeting.