This Week in God: Religion Costs Counties Cash, 'I Believe' License Plates, and Evolution
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First up from the God Machine this week is an unfortunate situation in which public officials with a religious agenda have cost their communities dearly. (thanks to Joanne for the tip)
A federal judge has ordered a pair of southern Kentucky counties to pay $393,798 in attorneys fees stemming from their defense of posting the Ten Commandments in courthouses.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that U.S. District Judge Jennifer B. Coffman ruled that Pulaski and McCreary counties must pay the funds to two attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky.
The ACLU of Kentucky successfully challenged the displays in federal court in a legal battle that started a decade ago.
What's frustrating is that these Kentucky officials had to realize that their efforts to promote Christianity were unconstitutional. But instead of backing down, complying with the law, and leaving religious promotion to houses of worship and private individuals, they pushed forward anyway with a display that endorsed the Christian version of the Ten Commandments, an "In God We Trust" display, and a version of the Congressional Record declaring 1983 as the "Year of the Bible."
These are two of the poorest counties in Kentucky -- they're already hard pressed to cover county expenses -- and now local families are likely going to be stuck paying legal fees because their county officials thought it was their job to promote a faith tradition, even after lawyers explained they couldn't. They knew this was a likely outcome, but pushed ahead anyway. What a shame.
Also from the God Machine this week:
Steve Benen is "blogger in chief" of the popular Washington Monthly online blog, Political Animal . His background includes publishing The Carpetbagger Report, and writing for a variety of publications, including Talking Points Memo, The American Prospect, the Huffington Post, and The Guardian. He has also appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation," MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," Air America Radio's "Sam Seder Show," and XM Radio's "POTUS '08."