Atheists want Ten Commandments painting removed from Kentucky county clerk office

The Ten Commandments painting on display inside the Trigg County clerk's office in Kentucky.FFRF

A group of atheists has asked a county clerk's office in Kentucky to remove a Ten Commandments painting, claiming it violated the Establishment Clause.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has sent a letter to Trigg County Clerk Carmen Finley regarding the painting which is displayed at the Trigg County clerk's office, which carries the words "God spoke these words" and includes a modern and revised list of the Ten Commandments.

"In McCreary County v. ACLU, the Supreme Court ruled that a modern display of the Ten Commandments in two Kentucky courthouses violated the U.S. Constitution," FFRF's Patrick Elliott told Finley. "The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a permanent injunction against such displays in 2010, finding that the counties acted with an impermissible religious purpose."

FFRF said the Ten Commandments painting would be viewed by an observer as an endorsement of religion.

It said the display sends a message that the county gives its stamp of approval. It insisted that the government has no business telling citizens which god they must have.

"How can nonbelievers feel welcome in the Trigg County clerk's office when they have such an obviously biblical message staring them in the face?" asks FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

The Supreme Court, FFRF said, ruled in McCreary that "they proclaim the existence of a monotheistic god (no other gods). They regulate details of religious obligation (no grave images, no sabbath breaking, no vain oath swearing). And they unmistakably rest even the universally accepted prohibitions (as against murder, theft, and the like) on the sanction of the divinity proclaimed as the beginning of the test."

As a matter of policy, FFRF said, the county should not host a religious display.

"The First Commandment alone makes it obvious why the Ten Commandments may not be posted on government property," it said.