Legal team warns county anti-Christian activists are using 'false arguments'

 May 11, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

A team of legal experts that has fought on behalf of the existence of simple faith statements, including the Ten Commandments, is warning a Minnesota county not to be misled by the "false arguments" being pushed by an anti-Christian organization.

The issue is that a new $75 million jail in Itasca County, Minnesota, features a number of faith slogans, including the Ten Commandments painted in the facility's gym.

The presence of those slogans, which the U.S. Supreme Court has concluded are legal, prompted an organization called the Freedom From Religion Foundation to launch a pressure campaign against the county.

The organization's members are insisting that the county paint over the slogans because they "violate" the First Amendment.

FFRF said it wants the county to "repaint and repent," and apologize to taxpayers for "wasting money on two paint jobs."

According to a report from Liberty Counsel, which has defended faith statements in multiple courts, FFRF also wrote to the county claiming it was in violation of "government neutrality" on religion.

However, Liberty Counsel noted that FFRF was citing the "Lemon Test," a now-defunct precedent used for years by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ended the use of that ideology in 2022 and now allows expressions of faith on government property. To censor all such statements would be to put the government in a position of discriminating against faith.

Liberty Counsel reported, "In 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled and eliminated the 'Lemon Test' over a series of rulings. The first ruling that struck a blow was Liberty Counsel’s 9-0 victory in Shurtleff v. City of Boston on May 2, 2022. The case involved censorship of Christian viewpoints regarding flag raisings. The high court unanimously rejected Boston’s use of the 'Lemon Test' to censor Christian viewpoints on a public flagpole.

"Then on June 27, 2022, the Court buried the 'Lemon Test' in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District ruling 6-3 that the school district could not suppress private religious speech, such as silent prayer, on the school football field after games."

The court's new "test" for such rulings now is based on "historical practices and understandings."

The justices explained courts should consider the historical practices at the time the Establishment Clause was ratified to "faithfully reflect" the understanding of the Founders in determining the extent of religious expression in the public square, Liberty Counsel reported.

While, the report said, Sheriff Joe Dasovich was considering how to respond to the FFRF demands, Liberty Counsel noted the county "is well within the law to keep its displays."

Liberty Counsel noted the FFRF was resorting to "false arguments."

"The Ten Commandments provide a basic code of conduct and have played a significant role in the development of American law and policy that predates the Constitution. Currently, there are many displays of the Ten Commandments embedded in the architecture of the U.S. government," the organization documented.

Those include multiple displays at the Supreme Court, in the Library of Congress, and multiple other federal buildings.

"There is no need for Itasca County officials to ‘repent’ for its Ten Commandments display. The ‘Lemon Test’ has been dead for almost two years and any case that relied upon its questionable framework is no longer valid. Today, the line between religious expression and governmental endorsement is determined by original and historical practices, and the Ten Commandments have long been displayed in this nation for centuries as a symbol of law," explained Liberty Counsel chief Mat Staver.

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