Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett is not backing down in the face of a challenge from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
The East Tennessee chapter of the Madison, Wisconsin-based group wants Burchett to order a county health department employee to move a personal display that references God, reports the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Shawnee Casteel, the chapter’s director, said in a Nov. 8 email to the county that she saw the display while changing her legal name back to her maiden name. Casteel said the display would be OK if it were not visible to the public via a bulletin board behind the window where the employee sits.
In a response Nov. 20, Burchett said he would not ask the employee to move the display.
“Faith is such an important part of our lives and of all the things going on in this world … this is the place where they attack us … I think it’s very telling,” Burchett told the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Written on a piece of paper, the display reads, “Just think, you’re here not by chance, but by God’s choosing. His hand formed you and made you the person you are. He compares you to no one else – you are one of a kind. You lack nothing that His grace can’t give you. He has allowed you to be here at this time in history to fulfill His special purpose for this generation.”
In July, at the request of the same group, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero relocated a religious display at the police department. Burchett criticized the progressive Democratic mayor for not pushing back, saying, “Mayor Rogero is my friend, but I would fight this one. I wouldn’t yield to extortionists.”
Burchett, a Republican who is running for Congress, is drawing praise from his supporters for the stance he is currently taking.
— Greg Johnson (@jgregjohnson) November 29, 2017