An anti-religion activist group is demanding a Tennessee county board scrub “Judeo-Christian values” from its preamble for allegedly violating the Constitution.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation claims a “concerned local resident” notified them after the Sumner County Board of Commissioners voted Monday to “pass a preamble and rules declaring itself a commission based on ‘Judeo-Christian values,’ despite the county’s legal director urging it not to.”
The preamble reads:
“We, the Sumner County Board of Commissioners as the legislative branch of Sumner County, recognizes that all powers are reserved by the citizens of this county. In order to perfect the operation of our County government, to ensure that it is just, orderly, efficient, cost-effective and most importantly reflective of the Judeo-Christian values inherent in our nation’s founding, as well as responsive and transparent to the people of Sumner County, our goal in serving the citizens of Sumner County is to exceed the requirements established in Tennessee state law and do hereby adopt these Standing Rules and Procedures.”
FFRF sent a letter Wednesday to the county charging them with “misinformation” for claiming the nation is founded on Judeo-Christian values.
“We write to request that the Board immediately rescind this Preamble and remove the reference to ‘Judeo-Christian values.’ The Board may not use its legislative power to promote, favor, and force a select set of religious values on Sumner County’s citizens,” FFRF legal fellow Samantha Lawrence said.
“The Supreme Court has long held that the Establishment Clause requires that the government remain neutral between religions, and between religion and nonreligion,” Lawrence added.
“The concept of ‘Judeo-Christian values’ did not even exist until the mid 20th Century, let alone at the time the United States was founded,” the group explained. “To the contrary, the United States was founded by Enlightenment-inspired thinkers who valued reason and skepticism. If the Framers had wanted to establish the United States based on religious principles, they would have said so in the Constitution, the founding document of our nation. Instead, our Founders made our country the first among nations to adopt a godless and entirely secular Constitution, one whose only references to religion are exclusionary.”
FFRF, which has written similar complaints to local governments across the country, said it has a “local chapter” in the Volunteer State.
National radio host Todd Starnes said the FFRF is notorious for targeting small towns and communities in the South and Midwest.
“They’re a bunch of godless gadflies,” Starnes said. “We are endowed by our Creator, not heathen atheists.”