June 29, 2022

Knoxville should fight removal of Bible plaques


Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett says Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and the city should fight Freedom From Religion efforts that prompted the city to remove a plaque with a Bible verse inside of a police department building.

Burchett, a Republican, made the comments in a rare public criticism of Rogero, a Democrat, Thursday morning, a day after announcing the city would remove the plaque hung in the department’s security building.

The plaque quotes Romans 8:31 and includes: “If God be for us, who can be against us?

The city plans to remove the plaque in a ceremony on Friday morning and move it to an inspiration room inside the building which will be a place where several quotes and sayings will be displayed.


Bible verse at the KPD to be removed

A sign with a Bible verse is being removed at KPD headquarters after an atheist organization based in Madison, Wisconsin called for it to be removed.


The East Tennessee chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint about the plaque and threatened legal action if the city did not remove it.

Following: Atheist challenging Knoxville police plaque: ‘We don’t fight religion’

Burchett said the Constitution protects his Christian views, adding that the city should allow the group to sue them.

“Mayor Rogero is my friend, but I would fight this one. I wouldn’t give in to extortionists,” he said. “At the end of the day, I have to answer to God, not some out-of-town outfit that makes a living chasing people…

“What I don’t understand is that atheists if they don’t believe in God, what do they care? It just doesn’t make much sense to me,” he said.


Mayor Madeline Rogero addresses the removal of a Bible verse

Mayor Madeline Rogero, Chief of Police David Rausch and Chief Legal Officer Charles Swanson discuss the removal of a Bible verse at the KPD Safety Building Wednesday, July 26, 2017.

Michael Patrick/Knoxville News Sentence

Rogero said at Wednesday’s press conference that the city determined the plaque crossed a “clearly drawn line” with the government promoting a particular religion. She said city leaders are expected to govern according to the Constitution, not their faith.

Burchett admitted he’s not a lawyer, but it’s worth arguing whether that’s a popular opinion or not.

“At some point people who follow my belief systems will just be put out by law and to me that’s discrimination against me and my beliefs,” he said.

Rogero issued a statement in response to Burchett’s comments Thursday afternoon.

“I am happy to clear up some misunderstandings and overreactions to this issue. My friend Mayor Burchett will be happy to know that the plaque is not removed, it is simply moved from side to side of the door, where she will share a room with other inspirational quotes,” Rogero said in the statement.

Following: Knoxville town leaders move Bible plaque

“It will be hanging over the exit door and will be the last thing our officers see when they go on patrol,” she continued. “This is an excellent solution suggested by KPD officers to resolve the constitutional issues that had been raised.”

Councilman Nick Della Volpe said he was “shocked and saddened” by Rogero’s decision, said in an email to the mayor on Thursday.

“Why should we voluntarily give up our history and heritage because some extremists bark their objection? Better to have it snatched from our cold, dead hands, than voluntarily abandoned,” he wrote.

The pastor unhappy with the decision of the city

Clarence Sexton is the pastor of Temple Baptist and founder and president of Crown College Powell. He said the city made the wrong choice and the church and college would ask the city accordingly.

He read the First Amendment to a reporter in his office and said the idea of ​​separation of church and state was not mentioned in the Constitution. He said the Freedom From Religion Foundation bullies municipalities into doing what they would like them to do.

Opinion: Caves of Rogero order moving bible verses

“(Freedom From Religion) is a religion – secularism and humanism is a religion,” he said. “So they try to impose their religion on us while denying us the free expression of our religion. It’s not fair and it shouldn’t be given up.

“They are a religion…they want to practice their religion on other people’s,” Sexton said. “It’s a violation of the very thing they say they oppose.”

Sexton said everyone has the right to express their faith – limiting that is wrong. Where will it stop, he asked?

“I’m not going to give in to them to try to limit myself in my expression of faith and just give way to their expression of faith. This is wrong,” he said.

How we got here


Freedom from Religion Foundation calls for removal of Bible verse

Freedom from Religion Foundation calls for removal of Bible verse

Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch said the plaque was never intended to promote religion, but rather “was simply motivation for those who defend good against evil, those of us who stand on that “thin blue line” between good and evil.

Aleta Ledendecker of Freedom From Religion said on Wednesday that one of the group’s members contacted the organization about the plaque when they saw it while leaving a statement to the department after witnessing a shipwreck .

The group sent a total of three letters threatening legal action.

“Anyone who does not prescribe Christianity would be subject to a plaque that pretty much discriminates against them,” she said Wednesday.

The group is based in Madison, Wisconsin. It operates on donations and threatens legal action on issues involving religion, from praying at school to posting the Ten Commandments and “In God We Trust” signs. Sometimes he complains. It doesn’t always win. The group’s founder boasted a success rate of less than 50% in a 2013 Capitol Times interview.