Fiscal Court not ready for religious information displays on properties

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By Thomas Barr

 SHEPHERDSVILLE – The division between church and state has apparently gotten a bit blurred throughout various parts of the country.

     But, in Bullitt County, fiscal court members aren’t quite ready to face a legal challenge of the U.S. Constitution.

     Isaiah Sharp and Joe Hurst, members of the Shepherdsville congregation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, approached Bullitt Fiscal Court members with a request.

     The men wanted the opportunity to have a “quiet” display be placed on government property around the courthouse.

     According to Sharp, there would be no solicitation of anyone and volunteers would be there to answer any questions.

     The theme is Bible education and its importance.

     He said LaGrange has a display on governmental property and it has worked well.

     Sharp wasn’t sure of how often the display, which has educational information available, would be set up and where around the courthouse it might be. He said it would not be located in any particular offices.

     Hurst said the practice has been going on nationwide and the success has been very good.

     He added that magistrate Ruthie Ashbaugh’s suggestion to try it out for a month might be a good idea.

     But magistrate John Bradshaw was leery of the future implications.

     “Government should not be involved in this,” said Bradshaw.

     While not happy with a lot of things going on with the federal government, especially how it treats the Constitution on a daily basis, Bradshaw said having the religious display on government property would not be right.

     “It’s unconstitutional and it sets a precedent,” said Bradshaw.

     If the county officials allow one denomination to hand out material, it must open up the grounds to all denominations, no matter the message.

     County attorney Monica Robinson said that groups have been able to use the front lawn of the courthouse after business hours in the past. She said that should still be available through contact with the county judge’s office.

     The court voted unanimously to not allow the request to have a continual display of religious material on government property during normal business hours.