Michigan County Officials Approve Religious Sign to Stand in Local Park

| by Kendal Mitchell
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A county government board in Michigan formalized its final approval to reinstate a religious sign in a local park on Tuesday.

The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners voted to put up a sign in Hager Park, located in Jenison, Michigan. It will be placed next to a boulder dedicated to the founders of the park, along with an informational sign explaining the reasons behind the removal, and subsequent reinstallment, of the religious memorial.

The inscription on the sign comes from Psalm 19:1 saying, "The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament sheweth his handiwork."

The informational sign will say that the sign was reinstated "because it is an important part of the history of Hager Park and its origin," the Grand Haven Tribune reports.

Controversy first arose in December 2014 when the Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists made complaints against the sign and threatened the county with a lawsuit if it was not removed. At that time, officials removed the sign to avoid the threat of a lawsuit.

Some members of the board said they voted against the reinstallment of the sign because they do not think it includes the entire community.

County Commissioner Roger Bergman said he voted against the measure because of the religious language included on the sign.

“I cannot in good conscious vote to approve this,” Bergman stated.

Tim Postma of Jenison said he thinks the sign pays Christianity special attention not given to other religions.

“It seems like a simple separation of church and state issue,” he added.

After weeks of public outcry, the board of commissioners voted in January to put the sign back in Hager Park.

Multiple humanist organizations said they would consider legal action if the sign was reinstated.

Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists member Mitch Kahle said the group would consider suing the county if commissioners reinstall the sign. Spokespeople from the Center of Inquiry Michigan and the Freedom from Religion Foundation said they would also explore legal action.

According to a spokesperson from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the group sent a letter to the county board on Monday saying the sign, "conveys government support for religion" and should not be displayed.

Sources: Grand Haven Tribune 

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