City Council’s 10 Commandments Proposal Sparks Heated Exchange

August 17, 2010

WSIL TV News reports that a meeting of the Marion, Illinois City Council last night devolved into a heated exchange between town residents and Chicago atheist activist Rob Sherman.

A large crowd turned out to support Marion resident Ken Kessler's proposal to install a Ten Commandments monument on Marion's Tower Square. Sherman attended the meeting to express his opposition and his support for the separation between church and state.  The meeting became heated rather quickly, with Council member Jay Rix remarking to Sherman: "You make me sick to my stomach."

Marion Mayor Bob Butler supports the proposal.  He remarked: "In God's will this will be done." Rabbi Moshe Laurie inexplicably remarked, "My problem is an atheist says he has no religion yet he demands that I forsake my religion."  How installing a religious monument on private rather than government property would require Moshe to "forsake" his faith is unclear.

Sherman says he may attempt to outbid any supporters if the city tries to sell a portion of the town square to allow the monument to be erected on private property.  Sherman remarked, "You might end up with me purchasing that segment. Then I could put up a monument that says God is make believe or there is no God." 

Sherman favors placing the monument only on church property or other private property that would not give an impression of government endorsement of religion.  Because Sherman is not a Marion resident, he would not have standing to sue to prevent the monument's installation.  Sherman said, however, that if one Marion resident contacts him he will make sure the case goes to court.

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