Residents, pastors celebrate ‘In God We Trust’ signs on Anderson County Courthouse

Bates Family of Lake City TN

The Bates family of Anderson County, including County Commissioner Zach Bates, left, and father and pastor Gil Bates, second from right, and mother Kelly Bates, right, sing “This Land is Your Land” and “God Bless America” during a Tuesday ceremony for new “In God We Trust” signs at the Anderson County Courthouse in Clinton.

CLINTON—In a ceremony that featured pastors, prayers, and patriotic songs, a group of about 150 people watched Tuesday morning as the first of four signs emblazoned with the national motto “In God We Trust” was unveiled at the Anderson County Courthouse in Clinton.

Supporters celebrated the installation of the seven-foot, 180-pound sign as a victory for the majority, a chance to honor the nation’s heritage.

“Whether you agree with this or disagree with this, the democratic process took place,” said Tom Byrge, director of missions for Clinton Baptist Association. “The majority of the U.S. citizens will continue to believe, and will not be ashamed to say, ‘In God We Trust.’”

“This is people standing up for what they believe in,” said Steve McDonald, pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Oak Ridge. “We have a right to the democratic process and majority rule.”

Steve McDonald at In God We Trust Ceremony

Steve McDonald, left, of Calvary Baptist Church in Oak Ridge, was one of several pastors at a Tuesday morning ceremony for new “In God We Trust” signs at the Anderson County Courthouse in Clinton. Also pictured are former Oak Ridge Mayor Kathy Moore; Tom Byrge, director of missions for Clinton Baptist Association; moderator Anthony Allen; and pastor Gil Bates, father of Anderson County Commission Zach Bates.

County officials said the other three black granite signs, which are also inscribed with gold leaf lettering, could be installed over three more entrances at the three-story courthouse this week.

Tuesday’s ceremony was the culmination of a eight-month drive inspired by a similar move at the Putnam County Courthouse in Cookeville in November. The Anderson County signs were approved this spring after five public meetings with county commissioners and hours of debate that focused on the proper design; questions of legal liability; whether to allow other mottos, including clearly secular slogans; and adequately protecting the separation between church and state.

Anderson County Law Director Jay Yeager has said he thinks displaying the national motto on a county government building will be constitutional as long as it doesn’t violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and commissioners follow proper procedures and safeguards. He said the signs have to be displayed for a secular purpose, can’t advance or inhibit religion, and can’t convey—to a reasonable viewer—a government endorsement of religion.

Supporters have cited the use of the phrase on U.S. money, on federal buildings in the nation’s capital in Washington, D.C., and the frequent use of other phrases that reference God, including in the Pledge of Allegiance. They have said the proposal was constitutional.

They rejected objections to the signs based on the separation between church and state at Tuesday’s half-hour church-like ceremony, which featured four pastors giving short speeches sandwiched between opening and closing prayers.

Mike Thompson

Mike Thompson

Mike Thompson, senior pastor at Second Baptist Church in Clinton, said the separation is not found in the U.S. Constitution, and it is meant to protect churches from governmental inference. The separation is often misunderstood, Thompson said.

“We do not separate God from government,” he said. “Separation of church and state really has nothing to do with whether or not we acknowledge God as a nation and as a people.”

Supporters said pastors weren’t the only ones who supported the signs.

“I am so proud of all the Anderson County people for standing up for what you believe in,” former Oak Ridge Mayor Kathy Moore said. “America was formed on God.”

The installation of the first sign on Monday was completed at about 11 p.m., hours behind schedule after a series of setbacks that included a hydraulic hose that popped off a scissors lift and a drill that ran into rebar in the rock-solid courthouse walls.

Tom Byrge In God We Trust Ceremony

Tom Byrge, director of missions for Clinton Baptist Association, left, and former Oak Ridge Mayor Kathy Moore at the Tuesday morning unveiling ceremony for new “In God We Trust” signs on the Anderson County Courthouse in Clinton.

The Anderson County Mayor’s Office emphasized that the county government did not organize Tuesday’s ceremony.

Still, in a brief speech that lasted less than a minute, Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank told the assembled residents, elected officials, and government employees that she was proud of them.

“You have shown what you the people can do when you petition the government for what you want done, and what you want to accomplish,” Frank said. “I challenge you not to stop here.”

Lynn Bryge, who owns Active Electric in Oak Ridge, led the drive to install the signs. He was inspired by the decision to adorn the Putnam County Courthouse with the national motto last year and helped form a committee of private citizens that raised $4,812 for the signs through private donations.

“I thought it would be an excellent thing to do here in Anderson County,” Byrge said. “Rather than divide, pull the county tighter, and it did.”

“It was a small minority that opposed it,” Byrge said. “But the far, far majority approved it.”

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  • Lucius Whitman

    Once again, a bunch of backwoods idiots that don’t understand either our system of government, or it’s history.

    • Richard Tingley

      So true. These people do not realize that the US is not a democracy, it is a republic. If it were a true democracy we could make things such as murder legal and gun ownership illegal by a simple majority vote.

      • Denny Phillips

        If it were a republic, the duly elected representatives could hold a vote re-affirming “In God We Trust” as the national motto and encouraging its posting on all government buildings.

        Oh wait, that is what happened….
        http://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/nov/1/house-vote-reaffirms-in-god-we-trust/

        • Richard Tingley

          I am assuming you meant “couldn’t” and not “could” and yes our congress and president can do things that violate the constitution. It is the supreme court that is suppose to correct them when they do. Sadly, they have been rather bad about it in this particular area since the mid 1950’s.

    • Eileen Slater

      Nice article from a California newspaper about celebrating our heritage with the installation of our national motto at their City Hall:

      http://www.thecapistranodispatch.com/2013/07/25/city-unveils-in-god-we-trust-and-freedom-shrine/

      They even call it their “freedom shrine.” Initiated and paid for by the citizens and church leaders, just like here. But with embellishment (!) and without the derision and name-calling I’m seeing here.

      Nice to read about instead of all the negativity that I’m seeing here.

    • Ck Kelsey

      So you are a FRONTWOODS idiot then ,by your own admission.

  • Johnny Beck

    Because they got permission from the gov’t office that’s responsible for the building.

  • Denny Phillips

    Full name please.

  • Denny Phillips

    Mr. Huotori,

    Are we expected to use real names or names like Mickey Bitsko from Mad Magazine? I would like to comment as Paddy O’Furniture if it is okay.

    • johnhuotari

      I have removed the comment in question and will send an e-mail to the commenter explaining our guidelines.

      • Denny Phillips

        Lol. Thanks John. I think the full disclosure makes for less trolling.

        • johnhuotari

          With one exception, everyone I’ve talked to locally about this issue appreciates the full disclosure requirement in our comment section.

  • Denny Phillips

    One would assume our Supreme Court would have noticed this purported shredding of the Constitution as they pass the 10 Commandments posted on the Supreme Court Building each day as they go to work.

    • Sam Hopwood

      Right on target…… I will assume that those who disagree with the posting also do not use that filthy U.S. currency that proclaims “In God We Trust” on each bill…… :)

      • Vision_From_Afar

        Not if I can help it. Plastic is awesome.

        • Ck Kelsey

          In your alleged mind only. Debt is STUPID !

          • Vision_From_Afar

            In my wallet lies the magical, real money of TEH DEBIT CARD.
            Now don’t you feel silly?
            – James Upshaw

          • Ck Kelsey

            You can’t spell the word THE ? And you want to talk about “SILLY ” ? How Stupid !

          • Vision_From_Afar

            Oh, you’re new to the Internet, aren’t you? Well, let me be the first to say, “Welcome.” Now, you may find that many of those on the internet use a strange combination of non-words and intentionally mispelled words (in varying degrees, of course), often to convey emotion and/or intent. A good example of this would be the “LOLCat” phenomenon.
            In this occurrence, what happened is an intentional mispelling of the word “the” in an attempt to convey sarcasm. This was reinforced by my use of all caps, denoting a shout (or proclamation).
            Thanks for playing, and enjoy your time on the Internet.
            – James Upshaw

          • Ck Kelsey

            More childish word salad from the child who named himself after a comic book character.

          • Helen Standifer

            “word salad”, hey, they used to say that on Boston Legal! Is that where you got it? If you don’t understand something, just say so.

          • Ck Kelsey

            When you get back from the clue store just post we will know it was you .LOL

          • Helen Standifer

            You’re really a card, you know that don’t you?

          • Vision_From_Afar

            You’re amusing, if nothing else. Try and come up with an actual rebuttal though. A battle of wits with an unarmed opponent is never fun.
            My name is based on a Norse god, actually. Though I rather enjoy the Avengers comics.
            -James

          • Ck Kelsey

            “Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning…”
            ― C.S. Lewis

          • Vision_From_Afar

            Why? Why does everyone just assume I’m an atheist? I’m less of an atheist than you!
            “When an opponent can only fall back on another’s quotes, they have admitted defeat.” – Me

          • Ck Kelsey

            Commentary: America as Detroit:

            “In 1960, before the Great Society, Detroit was the wealthiest city per capita in America among cities with more than two hundred thousand residents. In those years, the United States was the world’s largest creditor nation. Today, Detroit is the poorest city per capita in America among cities with more than two hundred thousand residents. Today, the United States is the world’s largest debtor nation.

            Welcome to Detroit, America.”

          • Vision_From_Afar

            This unsourced screed is in reply to…what?
            – James

          • Helen Standifer

            You really are silly! I’m sorry, it’s really very sad.

          • Ck Kelsey

            You are being a hater Helen .And liberalism is best understood by being silly.

          • Helen Standifer

            I don’t hate anybody. I just think some people sound silly. Just my opinion, calm down.

          • Ck Kelsey

            Lighten up liberalism can be treated :)

          • Helen Standifer

            That reply to my statement doesn’t even make sense. I said CALM DOWN!!!! How does that have anything to do with political philosophy?

    • Vision_From_Afar

      What 10 Commandments? They’re not on the USSC building.

      • Denny Phillips

        Your ignorance of fact, does not make it less a fact. Instead if trolling, read & learn.

        Artwork depicts Moses bearing the Ten Commandments at the USSC.

        • Vision_From_Afar

          There’s also Confusious, and Mohommad, and King John, and Louis IX, and Socrates among others. Think the Judges draw inspiration from them too?
          Also, Moses has two blank tablets on the Eastern Frieze. No Commandments seen there. On the interior, he has a tablet, but it’s only got the 2nd half of the commandments, specifically due to their secular leanings (murder, adultery, theft, perjury, and covetousness). Do your own learning.
          – James Upshaw

          • Ck Kelsey

            Word Salad anyone?

          • Helen Standifer

            I think he pointed out where you were mistaken pretty clearly.

          • Ck Kelsey

            Please explain your alleged thought.

          • Helen Standifer

            Now don’t be dim, I was just agreeing with James. As far as “alleged thought”. Now whose being a hater?

          • Ck Kelsey

            YOU ! As usual,it seems to be all you got.

          • Helen Standifer

            Please explain what it is I’ve said that you think is hateful? I just don’t know why you think that.

          • Denny Phillips

            My apologies for not properly identifying the secular image of a Biblical figure holding tablets illustrating five of the Commandments.

            Clearly its secular….in coo coo land, anyway.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            Then maybe you should argue about the five commandments. It’s secular in context, since it is not given prominence over any other religious or cultural lawgivers, which was the entire point.
            And yes, there is nothing religious at all about the 2nd half of the commandments, three of which are actually laws (murder, theft, perjury) across the country and the other two are simply good behavior for a stable society, regardless of the religion of that society. I’m sorry your blinders are on so tight. Might want to loosen them a bit.
            – James Upshaw

  • Vision_From_Afar

    Y’all are lucky I’m too far away. I’d love to tape some deity’s name over “God” on each one. In Thor We Trust, anyone?

    • Denny Phillips

      And Mr. Huotori requires first and last name at this site.

      I presume your troll bites will be removed shortly.

      • Vision_From_Afar

        What’s the point of having Disqus if you’re just going to require names? A little silly I think.

        • johnhuotari

          Disqus had helped us in several ways, including by cutting down on spam, and people here tell me they appreciate the way we handle our comment section. Of course, there is always room for improvement.

          You may post comments here with your username as long as you include your signature. Thank you.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            Always nice to see a sensible mod. :hat tip:
            -James Upshaw

          • johnhuotari

            Thank you.

    • Ck Kelsey

      I’d help with your ticket costs, if you will tell us when you plan to try it .

  • Ck Kelsey

    No last name with no commonsense.great combo !

  • Denny Phillips

    Congratulations Mr. Huotori! The blog has made it onto the list for paid bloggers to come post liberal comments!

    • johnhuotari

      Which site, Denny?

      • Helen Standifer

        I have seen it on several like Wonkette (which is satire), Daily Kos (but this site wasn’t noted).

  • David Allred

    “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already.” ~ The Apostle Paul

    • Denny Phillips

      There is no “lawsuit”. It was a motion to dismiss.

      Ordinarily, such motions would be taken up by the judge in chambers, considered, a either granted or denied.

      Alas, this attorney, for some reason (I’ll let others speculate what that might be) decided to make this motion readily available for the press.

      In my estimation, the presiding judge (Elledge?) would do well to rule on this motion and put this to bed, bearing in mind that by granting it he/she will set precedent to have all cases dismissed ranging from speeding ticket to murder.

      Likewise, to grant such a motion, this judge would be making a landmark ruling that dissents from previous rulings from higher courts including the Federal Appellate Court.

      I suspect that the judge (Elledge?) probably isn’t fond of being used as a political tool, nor does he appreciate having his courtroom made into a circus but only time will tell.

      • David Allred

        “Circus” is a good word. I suspect more acts to follow. Incidentally, I posted the above before reading today’s news… I was merely pointing out Paul’s position on the secular courts. He knew that the moment the church entered into that arena, her foothold would be planted firmly in the realm of the defeated.

        • Ck Kelsey

          So you would like for Christians to accept defeat so they won’t be defeated? Please explain.

          • David Allred

            We accept defeat the moment we believe God can’t work without proper signage.

          • Ck Kelsey

            When you say we,do you have a mouse in your pocket or just being schizophrenic ? :)

          • Vision_From_Afar

            Brava! Someone gets it!

          • Ck Kelsey

            Yea Denny you get it LOL !

          • Vision_From_Afar

            Reading comprehension fail, Ck.
            – James

          • Ck Kelsey

            Comic boy fail !

          • Denny Phillips

            I haven’t seen anyone here, or elsewhere state that God can’t work without “proper signage”, but that is a lovely strawman you have erected.

          • David Allred

            Not really. CK asked whether we should accept defeat, implying that victory and the signage were linked. That was his question. Trust me, that silly sign plays no factor – and if anything – demonstrates how we’re bent on pacifying cultural measures, clinging to a form of godliness while denying its power. The true letters are written on the hearts of men, not on tablets of stone. I believe the good book says so more than once.

          • Ck Kelsey

            That’s a mis -characterization of what CK wrote David. I have said before the sign matters not to me. But it’s enemies are the problem.

          • Helen Standifer

            Are you referring to yourself in the 3rd person? Just asking.

        • Denny Phillips

          You make a salient point, the Scripture may indeed warn against such activity.

          Alas, in the United States, there is a separation of church and state that precludes Biblical law from overriding the people’s will to post the national motto on the courthouse.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            If they wanted to put the real motto on there (E Pluribus Unum), no one would have an issue. Slapping the reactionary version from the 1950s that is dripping in unnecessary religious context, however…
            – James Upshaw

          • David Allred

            Denny, if that’s your logic then the Biblical law should have no bearing on the civil rights of homosexuals. My suspicion is that this is not an opinion you share. Having it both ways seems like quite the luxury.

          • Ck Kelsey

            Read Romans chapter 1 David ,ALSO Corinthians Ch. 6 then tell us again how you”Feel” about it.

    • Ck Kelsey

      Paul was referring to Christians suing each other wasn’t he David? What’s your point then?

      • David Allred

        Only that I find it ironic for us to celebrate putting God’s name on a house we were instructed to avoid.

        • Ck Kelsey

          We were told to pay our taxes ,if the courthouse is where you pay them who ever said to avoid the courthouse? Chapter and vs. please.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            US Constitution, Amendment I, 1st sentence
            – James

          • Ck Kelsey

            NO restriction on our FREE expression !

          • Vision_From_Afar

            Right, but your expression is yours. The courthouse is the government’s. Try again.

          • Ck Kelsey

            You don’t own the government either James.

          • Ck Kelsey

            Try again.Next time borrow some help if you must.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            As a citizen, we all do. Which means the view of the majority, or a minority, doesn’t get precidence or an implied “we speak for all.” I’m not the one asking for a religious statement on a government building. I’m content to leave it secular and neutral.

          • David Allred

            I’d encourage you to give Paul another look over. It may be true that the courthouse is now the center of any number of activities – from voting to advocating for civil rights. To make a claim that caring for the courthouse is a Christian responsibility can be made, and although I can point out chapter verse for that, I see no reason to do the heavy lifting for our community.

            That Paul is in fact abundantly clear that Christians who sue one another are missing the point of the Gospel, cannot be denied. That Jesus Himself thought such matters trivial is also evident (Luke 12). Our courts are mostly filled each day with people filing divorces, child custody battles, lawsuits over inheritance, and the occasional big trial of murder, rape, and whatever. These houses of “justice” serve us well when the Gospel fails but little more than that.

            Our choice to put his name on such a house is akin to inscribing names on a make-shift trophy given to the losing team and put on public display as if we’ve accomplished something. If we trusted in God to begin with, we’d not the courts. We settle for the weaker opponent and are ourselves made weaker by it.

          • Ck Kelsey

            Still doesn’t make your point David.The battle is not Christians against Christians as you portray.I see a faulty premise in your argument.

          • Ck Kelsey

            Here’s more on how the liberal establishment runs roughshod over people’s right to be Patriotic and free.

            http://www.fiscalconservatives.com/videos/9W4PDyd9mU4.html

  • Ck Kelsey

    http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/atheist-group-demands-school-stop-prayer-caravan.html
    And the hits keep coming .
    Anti-Religion Group Blasts Teen Valedictorian’s Prayer
    Group Aims to Silence Prayer at Football Games
    Alabama Town Under Atheist Attack
    School Cancels Graduation Over Prayer Controversy
    School Bans Religious Graduation Songs

    • Vision_From_Afar

      Valedictorian’s Prayer – Entirely free speech. Also entirely unnecessary religious chest-beating attempt to continue the fiction that “Christians are persecuted in America”
      Football Games – It’s a football game at a public high school, not church.
      Alabama town – Please. It’s not “personal expression” if it’s being organized with public school resources (e-mail, website, etc.).
      Cancels Graduation – A ridiculous overstep by officials who can’t please the rabid “prayer warriors” and actually follow the law.
      Graduation Songs – Again, not a church, of course they should be banned.

      I fail to see any problem here.
      -James Upshaw

      • Ck Kelsey

        You continue to fail to understand,no surprise there.

        • Vision_From_Afar

          Really? I see no rebuttal, no facts, no coherent statement, just an infantile “because I said so.” I’m not the one failing here.
          – James Upshaw

          • Helen Standifer

            Wait, he may refer you to some right-wing web site. He was proving some point the other day by quoting Rep, Steve King.

          • Vision_From_Afar

            Just so long as it’s not ACLJ or Wallbuilders. :shudder:
            -James Upshaw

          • Helen Standifer

            Does “Harbinger” mean anything to you?

          • Ck Kelsey

            You may find an online dictionary helpful. try it you will love it :)

          • Ck Kelsey
          • Helen Standifer

            What does that photo have to do with anything? I don’t need a dictionary, I know what “Harbinger” is. It’s some real crazy stuff that some Jewish self-proclaimed prophet made up. I’m sure you know that the Bible can be interpreted to mean what ever you want it to mean. That’s the brilliance of it. Sort of like our constitution. Lost my thought, now, tell me what this photo has to do with the sign on the courthouse or even religion/faith for that matter? And if you are just going to insult me, don’t bother. If you don’t have an explanation, just let it be. Hey, that’s a really good song!

          • Ck Kelsey

            You wanted signs from a “Right Wing ” site,I posted one. Got any other requests? :)

        • Ck Kelsey

          .www.reagancoalitioncom/articles/2013/20130731010-bullies-ban-mom.html

          • Johnny Beck

            Are you 3 related? Family reunions would be, um, “interesting”.

  • johnhuotari

    I think this conversation has run its course. Therefore, I am closing the thread. Thank you all for the discussion.

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