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Michigan County Officials Vote to Re-Install Sign With Bible Verse on Public Property

Bible sign
A sign that includes a Bible verse, located at Hager Park in Ottawa County, Michigan. |

Michigan county officials have voted to re-install a sign with a Bible verse on it at a public park after the display had been removed late last year.

In a 9 to 2 vote, the Board of Commissioners for Ottawa County decided Tuesday to put back the sign in Hager Park, which included the Bible verse Psalm 19:1.

Shannon Felgner, communications manager with Ottawa County, provided The Christian Post with a copy of the motion approved by the Board.

"The Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Department shall re-install the Sign in close proximately to the Plaque Boulder, and also designate the surrounding immediate area as a historical memorial area in recognition of Titus Hager and of his generous donation of land to the citizens of Ottawa County," reads the motion.

"Further, in the event that the heirs and survivors of Titus Hager should at any time request permanent possession of the sign for whatever purpose they may intend, that the Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Department shall then create, install and maintain a descriptive display that accurately reflects the intent and requirements of this motion."

About a half century ago, Titus Pager donated a piece of land to the people of Ottawa County to serve as a public park. A wooden sign quoting Psalm 19:1 was on the park property.

"The heavens declare the glory of God: and the firmament sheweth his handiwork," read the sign in gold lettering.

Last December, at the behest of a complaint from a local resident, the sign was removed by the county's Parks and Recreation Department.

It was a move lobbied for by the Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists, who threatened legal action if the county did not move the sign.

"Issues of church and state separation are very important to us and to a lot of members of the community as well," said MACRA spokesman Brian Plescher to local media.

"While there are some people that would prefer that the sign stay up, we also realize that it does violate constitutional law and needs to remain out of Hager Park."

At a meeting held Jan. 13, the Ottawa County Commission heard from residents who supported the sign being in Hager Park. A petition was also circulated calling for the sign to be reinstalled.

"I thought that they were taking part of my religious freedom away," said one local woman to Wood TV Channel 8 on Monday.

In addition to having the sign be placed back at Hager Park, Parks and Recreation will also include another sign that reads "This memorial area is intended to honor and recognize Titus Hager and his contribution of the Hager Park property to the citizens of Ottawa County, and is not an endorsement by Ottawa County of his personal views as expressed in this memorial area."

Regarding the Board's decision, MACRA provided CP with a statement regarding their next step in the debate over the sign's placement.

"We are discussing the situation with our attorneys, but will wait to see what, if anything, the county actually does with the offending sign that was removed from the public park on December 1, 2014," read the statement, which was also posted on the group's Facebook account.

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