U.S. Judge to Grayson Co.: Stop the “Sham”

Grayson Co. Map?

Yet another test on Kentucky’s lack of understanding the dividing line between church and state was breached as U.S. District Court Judge Joseph H. McKinley Jr. for the Western District of Kentucky issued a permanent injunction last Friday against a display of the ten commandments in the Grayson County Fiscal Court (story from the Courier-Journal):

The Grayson Fiscal Court had a “religious purpose” for erecting the display, and later efforts to depict it as educational were a “sham,” according to the ruling issued Friday…

A Baptist minister who proposed and financed the display in the Leitchfield courthouse had “purely religious reasons” for doing so, according to McKinley. The Fiscal Court, in unanimously supporting him, violated the constitutional ban on government-sponsored religion, McKinley ruled.

The ruling is the latest in a series of mixed results involving Kentucky counties displaying identical exhibits that are titled “Foundations of American Law and Government.” The exhibits include the Ten Commandments, along with several other historic documents, including the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence and the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Just in case you didn’t know where Grayson County is, the C-J included the handy little map on its site (see above).

And in other federal rulings news, U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Simpson III dismissed an eight year-old lawsuit against the Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children and the state of Kentucky for using state money to promote a “religious agenda.” The origin of this lawsuit, you may recall, was related to KBHC’s outright bigotry:

The case began in April 2000, when former agency worker Alicia Pedreira — whom Baptist Homes fired after learning she was a lesbian — sued, alleging religious discrimination, a claim the court rejected in 2001.

The court did, however, initially allow Pedreira and a handful of other taxpayers to pursue another claim: that the Baptist agency — which last year renamed itself Sunrise Children’s Services — was using government money to promote religion.

Simpson dismissed the suit based on “a 2007 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court,” (Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation -ed.) “which ruled in a similar case that just being a taxpayer does not give someone standing to sue over a funding decision by the executive branch of government.”

Of course, potential changes to the Supreme Court — with several older justices being in the “liberal” camp — are an extremely important issue in this election year.

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