Religion

Roane County Approves 'In God We Trust' Sign About Courthouse Doors

| by Kendal Mitchell

County leaders from Tennessee posted a sign displaying the words, "In God We Trust," on the outside of a government building last week, after voting on the issue several months ago.

Last summer, the Roane County Commission voted to put the words above the north and south entrances of the county courthouse in a 13-1 decision.

In addition to the plaques above the two entrances, another will be added in the Commission’s meeting room. Private donations covered the costs for all three signs, according to former Roane County Commissioner Ray Cantrell.

County officials in favor of the measure said they support the mention of "God" on a city building because they think God plays a role in governance.

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"I believe that God ordained government so therefore it's right and proper to have his name on the buildings, the government buildings," Cantrell told WBIR.

The Roane County Commission first voted on the proposal in May 2014, deciding in a 8-7 decision to send the measure back to a smaller subcommittee for a revote. 

Commissioner George Nelson said he voted against the proposal in May because he thinks the sign may cross the line separating church and state.

“I can’t vote for this, and it’s not because I ain’t a Christian,” Commissioner George Nelson told Oak Ridge Today back in May. “I still think you’re just opening up a can of worms, and that’s my opinion.”

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Randy Ellis, the Roane County Commissioner who spearheaded campaign to put up the sign, said he thinks the plaque has his constituents’ support because it represents their faith.

“Roane County is deep in its faith,” Ellis told WBIR. “Not one of my constituents … has come to me against this.” 

Steve Kelley, the sole dissenting vote against the proposal, told WBIR he thinks the sign excludes some members of the community.

"I haven't changed my opinion," Kelley said. "I think that it's not the right thing to do. I think it excludes a significant portion of our population because not everybody agrees with that sentiment.

Sources: WBIR, Oak Ridge Today, (2) / Photo Credit: WBIR