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Fla. City Stands Strong, Keeps Bible on Mayor's Desk in Spite of Atheist Complaint

June 14, 2013|6:08 pm

City officials in Pinellas Park, Fla., are standing strong in spite of a complaint recently issued by an atheist and agnostic group regarding the Bible which has remained on the city mayor's desk for nearly four decades.

The non-theistic advocacy group Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) issued a letter to the city government requesting the Bible be removed, arguing that it defies the Separation of Church and State.

City officials argue, however, that they have received no complaints from local residents regarding the presence of the Bible, which has remained on the mayor's desk since it was given as a gift to the city by the local Kiwanis volunteer organization in 1975.

"We've not had complaints from residents, from people who participated. We have complaints from groups who come in looking to find something wrong," Tim Caddell, the government relations administrator with Pinellas Park, told Bay News 9 regarding the complaint.

FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor told The Blaze that she believes the presence of the Bible is "improper" as it shows the endorsement of one religion above all others.

"It's on display. And that certainly is improper," Gaylor said.  "It shows an endorsement of the Bible as a holy book over other holy books," she added.

So far, the FFRF has not taken any legal action against the city, but it seems that neither sides are planning to step down from the disagreement.

The FFRF has previously filed numerous lawsuits attempting to separate any connection between the U.S. and religion, especially Christianity.  For example, in March, the FFRF joined 19 other plaintiffs in filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury Department, urging the government entity to remove "In God We Trust" from U.S. currency.

The advocacy group argued the phrase found on U.S. currency was unconstitutional because it endorsed Christianity.

In February, the FFRF joined the American Civil Liberties Union in filing suit against the Jackson City School District in Ohio for displaying a portrait of Jesus in one of its middle schools.

The group has also focused its lawsuits on the issue of censorship, filing a lawsuit in November 2009 against the city of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. for removing one of the foundation's billboards, and more recently against the Orange County School District in Florida for censoring distribution materials from the atheist group.

In the letter issued by the FFRF to the city of Pinellas Park, the group also requested that the city stop holding prayer before city council meetings, according to Bay News 9.

The local news channel reports that the city argues that its council meetings are open to all religions as well as atheists.

Source URL : http://www.christianpost.com/news/fla-city-stands-strong-keeps-bible-on-mayors-desk-in-spite-of-atheist-complaint-98054/