Ottawa Co. commission votes to re-install religious sign in Hager Park

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JENISON, Mich. -- Ottawa County commissioners Tuesday voted 9-2 to re-install a religious sign in Hager Park.

Two people had previously complained that the sign was a violation of the separation of church and state, and it was removed in December 2014.

Commissioners met in closed session and announced they had voted to return the sign.

The sign, which features Psalm 19:1, reads, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork."

The people opposing the sign have threatened to sue if it doesn't stay down.

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18 comments

  • James Bird

    When will people ever learn that the phrase “Separation of Church and State” DOES NOT appear anywhere in the Constitution or the original Bill of Rights??? The phrase did not appear in any legal document until the mid-20 th century by a judge who coined the phrase used by an ACLU attorney during a case relative to expenses of parents sending their child to a religious private school in his case judgment. Nor does any prohibition in any other words exist in these documents establishing and building the framework of our Nation regarding trying to prevent such acts as posting or speaking Scripture in public places. In fact, such actions ARE protected, thus the weak, trying to be politically correct, response of the commission. I think that the “disclaimer” sign is not necessary or called for in this situation, but I can understand their wanting to thwart any further legislation by extreme and narrow-minded activists. Like others, I am very happy that the commission DID show integrity and fortitude by not joining the dark tide of so many who cower at the first hint of being even at the edges of political correctness, and allow themselves to be “pimped out.”.

    • Brian Westley

      “The phrase did not appear in any legal document until the mid-20 th century by a judge who coined the phrase”

      Wrong. Thomas Jefferson used the phrase in his letter to the Danbury Baptists, and even he was paraphrasing earlier uses of the phrase.

      What the constitution does contain is a prohibition against an establishment of religion, and having government officials erect signs with religious phrases is such an establishment.

        • Tony

          Separation of church and state IS an idea…which is in the Constitution making it the law. They just used different wording when they wrote it.

          Think of it this way, if you can. Is speeding against the law? Most people would say yes. But the WORD “speeding” is not found in most (if any) speed laws. They are written using other terminology, but the IDEA is still the same. Just like the very REAL separation of church and state.

        • Brian Westley

          Of course I know it’s not a legal document; I was only commenting on the origin of the phrase.
          Supreme court opinions actually use the phrase “separation of church and state” — as Tony has already pointed out, the constitution uses different (and more precise) wording.

          Here’s a bit from Cutter v. Wilkinson (2005)
          “The Religion Clauses of the First Amendment provide: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The first of the two Clauses, commonly called the Establishment Clause, commands a separation of church and state.”

    • Tony

      When will YOU learn that whether or not the PHRASE appears in the Constitution is irrelevant, the CONCEPT does. Are you familiar with the phrase “a rose by any other name”? What terminology was used to express this idea is not what is important, the intent of the founding fathers is. Clearly their intent was to keep government OUT of the religion business and that is what they put in the Constitution.

      Religious fundamentalists continuously get hung up on the phrase “separation of church and state” and think that, because those five words do not appear in the Constitution, that there is no such thing, which is 100% WRONG!

  • Zegota

    “It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors.”
    President George Washington

  • merlynleroy

    Hudsonville Pastor says “We elected you (commission) to lead us. If they dont want God in their community, don’t live here!!”

    The same as many other religious fanatics — if you don’t agree with the government pushing MY religion, don’t live here. That selfish pastor has no respect for genuine religious freedom.

    • James Bird

      I remember that comment or something to its effect. I, as a Christian, was appalled by that man’s insensitive, seemingly ignorance. He is my brother in the Lord and I am sure he meant well, although it may be impossible for a non-believer to see this; esp if they are predisposed to persecute Christians. If you observed the group age which he was with and are very familiar with a time, as I am sure he is, when it was the social norm to be Christian or at least adhere to the set of values and beliefs thereof as honorable and valuable and when CSC, murder, rape, and other violent crimes were not nearly consuming so much of the news reports and High Schools weren’t plagued with murdering sprees, maybe you will recognize that his position is one which is probably steeped in fighting against an ever-pressing and growing, dark tide of evil and corruption esp being one whose job it is to be personally involved/drained with/by so many hurt by this and one of his jobs is to protect his flock from evil; and maybe evil is the source of discontent in this case, but maybe not and we must grant grace. Grace in this case should allow for the democratic petition of a sign also being erected for the complainer in this case, as long as they ARE a legitimate local resident and not just a visitor. When we visit different locations outside of our residence we have to expect to see different expressions/cultures/linguistics/mannerisms and such. It is their heritage, their place, their mix, their home and not ours. If one moves there and multiplies and becomes a significant contributing element in that local society as others have sacrificed before them, then their voting power will affect change to include their culture. I speak on the local level as that is this case’s situation. On the Federal level, it is clearly obvious that religious expressions on federal land, including famous monuments in our nation’s Capitol city, where the Constitution is indoctrinated and enforced, has always been allowed to this date, esp Judea-Christian; VERY CLEAR EVIDENCE of the intent of and and practice thereby ALLOWED by the U. S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

      • merlynleroy

        “when it was the social norm to be Christian or at least adhere to the set of values and beliefs thereof as honorable and valuable and when CSC, murder, rape, and other violent crimes were not nearly consuming so much of the news reports and High Schools weren’t plagued with murdering sprees”

        According to the FBI, crime rates in the US are around 40 year lows.

        “maybe you will recognize that his position is one which is probably steeped in fighting against an ever-pressing and growing, dark tide of evil and corruption esp being one whose job it is to be personally involved/drained with/by so many hurt by this and one of his jobs is to protect his flock from evil”

        And he pretends to do that by demanding that anyone who doesn’t agree with the government pushing his religion should leave town.

        Like I said, he’s totally selfish and has no grasp of genuine religious freedom — he wants MY government to promote HIS religion.

        • James Bird

          Yes, I know that. I am talking about the early 60’s and before; over 50 years ago. Murdering sprees in high school was unheard of and the rest existed as I said. I WAS also there. I don’t know if this man is “pretending” or “demanding anything. I’ll have to let him jump in here if he will and explain himself. You say that this pastor, “has no grasp of genuine religious freedom — he wants MY government to promote HIS religion.” Religious freedom, by the Constitution, as already has been discussed here, mandates freedom of religous expression so I would say that this pastor had some grasp on the subject. And if we inspect many of the National monuments and sites all across our beloved Nation on Federal land we will see this freedom of religious expression in existence most profoundly. It is HIS Govt, too. As I have said here elsewhere, if you disagree with the personal or religious convictions of another being expressed you need not attack his freedoms; merely express your convictions. This is a democratic society. Your posting is a good start of expressing yourself. You will be much more effective in arriving at truth after you work out that hatred and bitterness. It will come. I was very hateful and bitter once and still have moments when I have to dig out of the rubble and remind myself of my current blessed assurance and rejoice!

          • merlynleroy

            “Murdering sprees in high school was unheard of and the rest existed as I said. I WAS also there.”

            Your anecdotes aren’t valid statistics.

            “As I have said here elsewhere, if you disagree with the personal or religious convictions of another being expressed you need not attack his freedoms; merely express your convictions.”

            I’m NOT attacking his freedoms — I’m CRITICIZING him for having no respect for religious freedom. HE’S the one who said people who don’t agree with his religion need to leave town, not me.

  • 666threesixes666

    the satanic church needs to step in for this atheist. he doesn’t like god (whom happens to be satan) therefore a demon statue should also be present. jesus is gods fallen son, like lucifer because jesus is lucifer…. therefore these hollanders need to go to a building to re-enact killing jesus because that’s what they do.

    • 666threesixes666

      the whole thing is, it’s an act of aggression to FORCE your beliefs upon others. dont like islam shoved in your face, DONT LOOK AT IT. religion is a conspiracy to control man. you go to church are told to work, you pay taxes, therefore you’re funding war, death, rape, and pillaging. who told adam, and eve the truth that they wont die, and who lied? god lied, satan told the truth. you can’t see past your own biggoted ends. if you’re not free to not be christian are you really free to be christian? news flash, i lived in an apt on green meadow ct, and hager park is a place of many great memories. the playground is ok, but the bike, & walking trails are where the park is really excellent.

      • James Bird

        I, as a Christian, couldn’t agree with you any more about one forcing their beliefs on another. Muslims do this even to the point of total disown-ment and shunning, physical abuse, and/or murder. This is instructed in their Qur’an. Contrary to what some may have wrongly experienced or think; the Christian Bible, God’s Word, instructs us Christians to try to share God’s message of love and redemption with others in love BUT if they do not want to hear it we are told NOT to insist or force it and waste our time but RATHER move on to others who may be ready and open to God’s gracious gift of love and forgiveness and to love and pray for those who are not ready for redemption. God only wants a follower who has exercised their own free-will to follow Him in love; NOT out of coercion or compulsion.

  • Tom Walling

    so if a community put up a muslim passage from the koran in a county park and they said “if you don’t want Allah in your community, don’t live here.” you’d be hunky dory with that because the exact phase “separation of church and state” is not found in the constitution?