Michigan County Residents Debate Whether To Return Religious Sign To Park

| by Kendal Mitchell

Debates continue in a Michigan county about whether or not officials should return a religious sign to its former home in a public park.

On Jan. 27, the Ottawa County Board of Commissioner will vote on whether to reverse a previous decision that removed a sign displaying Psalm 19:1 back to its historical home in Hager Park near Jenison, Michigan.

Mitch Kahle, a leading member of the Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists, and other activists, successfully lobbied Ottawa County officials to remove the sign in December.

Kahle said he learned about the sign from two residents of the area who felt it was inappropriate to have the sign in a public space.

“The law is clear. (Religious symbols in on public property) is not allowed,” said Bud Stern, a retiree from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The sign, originally placed in the park in the late 1940s, read, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork."

After its removal, residents called on the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners to reverse its decision and put the sign back in Hager Park. Matt Kooienga, associate pastor of Harvest Baptist Church in Hudsonville, said during a Jan. 13 Ottawa County Board Of Commissioners work session, "Everybody knows this is a Christian place, not a Muslim place, not a Hindu place."

Aaron Cooley-Themm, of Hudsonville, Michigan, created a petition last month calling for the Board of Commissioners to put the sign back. Almost 1,300 people signed the petition.

Sources: Detriot News,  Photo Credit:, Mitch Kahle via Detroit News