Gilchrist County Commissioners are considering constructing a Ten Commandments monument in front of the County Courthouse in Trenton, Florida. Some community residents have raised concerns over displaying a religious monument on public land.
The American Humanist Association emailed a five-page letter against the proposed display to Bobby Crosby, the administrative manager of Gilchrist County, after reading an article by the Gilchrist County Journal.
The letter, sent by the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, mentioned that numerous residents object to the monument, and displaying it would violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which prevents the government from respecting an establishment of religion.
Gilchrist is not the only north Florida county that has faced controversy over a planned or erected monument featuring the religious text. Dixie and Bradford counties have seen public discussions as well.
A public workshop providing citizens the chance to voice their opinions and learn more about the monument is scheduled for June 8 at 6 p.m. in the Gilchrist County Meeting Room.
Part of the meeting will be discussing where the monument would be displayed.
“It may not even go up,” Crosby said. “I haven’t really been out discussing it with people.”
Crosby said that the proposal for the monument first came to him about a month ago from Dixie County resident Joe Anderson Jr. He offered to pay for the monument and any potential legal fees.
Anderson is familiar with legal battles over displaying religious monuments on public property. The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida sued Dixie County over a large monument with the Ten Commandments placed outside the county court house. The case was dismissed and the monument still stands.
Trenton residents have heard of nearby counties putting up Ten Commandment monuments, and one resident said she believes in separation of church and state but feels torn on the issue because she is a devoted Christian.
Josh Pitman has lived in Trenton for over a year and believes the monument is a violation of the Bill of Rights, he said.
“I feel like it is supporting one religion over another,” Pitman said. “You don’t see them putting up a satanist monument, an atheist monument or a Muslim monument.”