It’s the world’s best-selling book. But one group argues The Bible doesn’t belong in Pinellas Park’s city council chambers publically displayed next to the mayor’s desk.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation, based out of Wisconsin, wrote a detailed letter addressed to city leaders asking that the Bible be removed.
“It’s on display. And that certainly is improper. It shows an endorsement of the Bible as a holy book over other holy books,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor with the Freedom of Religion Foundation.
The group calls it one of the most egregious violations of Separation of Church and State it’s ever seen. But Tim Caddell, the Government Relations Administrator with Pinellas Park, says there’s more to the story.
The Bible was presented to the city on October 19th, 1975, as inscribed inside, by the Kiwanis club. The same book has been on the same desk for almost four decades.
“We’ve not had complaints from residents, from people who participated. We have complaints from groups who come in looking to find something wrong,” said Caddell.
The group says it’s not arguing against the Bible itself. They call it a blatant endorsement of religion.
“How would the people of Pinellas Park feel if it was a Quran?” said Gaylor.
It’s a fight the foundation isn’t planning on dropping. But the city is standing strong, pointing out that council meetings are welcoming to all religions and atheists too.
In the letter, the group also asked the city to drop prayers before council meetings.
This isn’t the first time the Freedom from Religion Foundation has taken issue with local municipalities.
Last year, it drafted a letter to Manatee County officials asking prayer before county commission meetings to be banned. The county didn’t budge.