This Week in God: Religion Costs Counties Cash, 'I Believe' License Plates, and Evolution

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:

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.