This column presents facts regarding the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Wisconsin State Constitution, and various other documents in reference to modern topics. Mark hopes to encourage interest in those works so that others can consider whether our government is practicing within its constitutional limits. In the last category, he may indicate his opinion. Mark is a resident of New Berlin. Readers are encouraged to visit the following sites for more information on the United States Constitution and Thomas Jefferson's views on politics and government.
Entry 15 Current Event
According to Fox news on December 23, 2009 (full article available on line)
Stars and other religious emblems were ordered removed from Christmas trees in all government buildings in Sonoma County on Monday following a complaint by Irv Sutley, a disabled 65-year-old Marine veteran who said the symbols were "extremely offensive" and part of the "cult" of Christianity.
Sutley said he filed the complaint with acting County Administrator Chris Thomas on Dec. 18 after noticing an angel atop a six-foot tree in the lobby of the county recorder's office. Sutley, a lifelong atheist and chairman of the county's Peace and Freedom Party, said he visited the office last week for his re-election bid next June.
Sutley said the angel violated previous court rulings concerning holiday displays, including a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found that government-sponsored Christmas trees decorated with religious symbols constitute an illegal endorsement of Christian doctrine.
"To avoid any controversy and to satisfy this gentleman's concerns, the ornaments were removed," said Toomey, adding that he knew of no prior complaints concerning the holiday display.
Sutley, of Santa Rosa, said he's pleased with Thomas' directive, but said his work might not yet be done. The veteran previously led successful efforts to stop prayers at government meetings in nearby cities and forced Rohnert Park to redesign its city emblem due to religious symbols.
He now intends to ask county officials to remove a steel cross near Ernie Smith Park in Sonoma that serves as a memorial to an accident victim.
"It was put up privately without a permit," Sutley said. "It shouldn't be there."
The liberty to publicly express religion conflicts with some government officials.
The Constitution, First Amendment
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; …”
We the People:
There is nothing in those words of the first amendment which prohibits religious expression on public grounds. Further, the government is entrusted to protect “the free exercise thereof”. The people of Sonoma County, California have elected an official who does not understand the US Constitution. They have the power to correct this situation. The rest of us must also be ready to act locally in similar instances.