officials in Camden County are standing up to demands by a national
atheist organization that they remove a mural from the county courthouse
commemorating the victims of the 9/11 attack in New York.
of the Freedom from Religion Foundation maintain that the painting
contains religious symbols, and is an unconstitutional endorsement
painting depicts the cross at Ground Zero atop the rubble from the Twin
Towers, with a firefighter and a young girl observing the scene.
is nothing more than a Latin cross hung on the wall by order of the
county government, which is an endorsement of Christianity," says Colin
McNamara, an attorney for the atheist group.
residents of Camden County don't see it that way, and they piled into a
meeting of the Camden County Commission last week to insist that the
mural remain in place.
in Camden County, we definitely should not allow the federal government
to tell us what we can and cannot do," said local resident Ike
Skelton. "The sheriff of this county should ensure that this
painting is never removed."
Camden County Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty says he believes the county is fully in compliance with the First Amendment.
courts have found that [the Ground Zero cross] is a genuine historical
artifact and is not an endorsement of any particular faith and it
doesn't excessively entangle government with religion."
Liberty Institute, a religious liberty law firm, has urged Camden
County leaders to stand firm against the threats of legal action from
the atheist group.
if the 9/11 memorial itself is permissible under the Constitution, then
a painting depicting that same memorial is certainly also permissible,"
says First Liberty attorney Michael Berry.
Fox News commentator Todd Starnes had this to say about the controversy:
near as I can tell, the folks who live in Camden County are
hard-working, church-going patriots. They love God and they love
were not looking for a fight, but the fight came to their front
door. And they're loaded for bear. All that to say, the
ragtag bunch of blowhard bullies from Wisconsin doesn't have a prayer."