A small county in Mississippi has been forced to remove its Ten Commandments display from the local courthouse after receiving legal threats from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Itawamba County officials released a statement this week saying they have decided to remove the framed Ten Commandments after being told it was a violation of the separation of church and state.
"The supervisors of Itawamba County have been notified that the present display of the Ten Commandments by itself is a violation of U.S. Supreme Court ruling," the statement reads, in part. "After consulting with legal counsel, the present display of the Ten Commandments will be replaced with the national motto the United States of America, 'In God We Trust,' adopted by Congress July 30, 1956. The county is considering adding additional educational displays in the future."
Local residents have reported that in recent weeks, an unknown person was seen taking photos of the Ten Commandments. Shortly after, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Itawamba county officials, demanding they remove the display immediately.
Both the Liberty Counsel and the American Family Association have offered their aid to Itawamba County, arguing that the small town should defend itself and know its religious freedom rights.
Representative Randy Boyd, R-Itawamba, told One News Now that national politics have allowed the religious freedoms of Americans to be stripped away.
"We've allowed leaders to appoint Supreme Court justices who have gone on the liberal side and have decided that a lot of these things that we hold dear are not to be put out — and I think that hurts our country and … hurts the Christians in our country because the United States was founded on Christian principles. The Ten Commandments are the basis of most of the laws that we have," he told the media outlet.
Residents have voiced their disapproval of the FFRF's actions to local media outlets.
"It really bothers me, this country was founded on Godly principles and if the foundation is to follow those Ten Commandments, then we wouldn't be having quite the issues that we're having with people hurting each other, or the hatred that goes on in this country if we would just follow what the Bible tells us to," Itawamba resident Cheryl Comer recently told WCBI-TV.
"I don't think somebody should be telling this county what they should be doing and not doing. If the people here want it, then it should be left alone," Comer added.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation recently released a statement saying it was "pleased" with the Ten Commandments removal but disagreed with its replacement of "In God We Trust."
"We're pleased that the County's unconstitutional Ten Commandments display will be removed from the courthouse," FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a statement. "But it's regrettable that the county supervisors sought out another religious statement to replace the Ten Commandments. Elected officials should not use their government position and government buildings as a place for promoting their religious views."