Senior Staff Writer
County commissioners on Monday unanimously voted to appropriate $100 as a donation for a Dayton, Tenn., woman's presentation of a framed display of the Ten Commandments, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence to be displayed in the ground-floor lobby of the Marshall County Courthouse Annex.
"These three documents represent the keys to Americanism," said June Griffin, the Dayton woman told commissioners. She'd spoken to the Tennessee Sheriff's Association last month when Marshall County Sheriff Norman Dalton decided he wanted to display the documents in his office. Having heard that, Commissioner Richard Hill sought to have them displayed in the Annex.
The decision by commissioners during the Monday night meeting was supported by two commission committees and their recommendations were accepted with little discussion. Griffin explained her mission in life about a week before the meeting.
"In 1997, I was impressed by the Lord," Griffin said of what's motivated her. She was dismayed by the "massive assault" on what she saw as freedoms in need of defense, and so she began her campaign for "the right to post the Ten Commandments."
Some 88 of 95 counties have been attracted to her availability to provide the framed documents. They are priceless, literally. Griffin charges no fee. She only accepts a donation for the frame and documents.
"There's no tax-free organization," she said. "It's just me with the Lord's help.
"This is totally voluntary," she said in an interview last week. "This is a labor of love. I hate tyranny."
Dalton and Hill explained how the documents can be displayed together. Individually, the Ten Commandments is a religious document since it's part of the Bible. However, when displayed in context with the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, the display is more historical than theological as each proclaims basic rights and standards of conduct.
"I see it more as a document governing the laws of life and governing what's right and wrong," Hill said of the commandments.
Commissioner Nathan Johnson seconded Hill's motion to have commissioners adopt the resolution to donate money to Griffin after receiving the framed documents.
"I don't have a problem displaying the Ten Commandments, given my religious values," Johnson said last week.
He was approaching the resolution carefully.
"I don't want to cause any stir," Johnson said, "but when it comes to your values, that's why the country is the way it is."
At the time of the interview, Johnson had not settled on his final stand with regard to the resolution, but it was clear that he was inclined to support it and he thought that perhaps the documents were already on display.
"When I believe in something, I'm not going to back down," Johnson said. "I don't see any reason why we should not display it, but from the beginning, I think we should, because I believe in all three."
As maintenance director for county schools, Commissioner Sheldon Davis also oversees maintenance of other county buildings, so he was asked were the documents would be displayed.
"I don't know," Davis replied after Monday's meeting. "We'll just have to go look and see. We'll consult" with County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett and County Budget Director Freda Terry.