Following Christian Outcry, Biblical Sign to Be Restored to Park—But With Disclaimer

SignJENISON, Mich. – Officials in Ottawa County, Mich. will be restoring a sign citing Scripture to a public park—but with a disclaimer—after it was removed following a complaint from a local resident.

As previously reported, the sign at issue quotes from Psalm 19:1, which reads, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” It was erected at Hager Park in Jenison in the late 60’s or early 70’s by the county road commission. It has remained at the site for at least 40 years.

But last year, an unidentified resident complained to officials about the sign, asserting that it was wrongful to promote Christianity with public resources. John Scholtz, Ottawa County Parks and Recreation director, told MLive that after consulting with the board about the matter, he had the sign removed.

“We add and remove signs, buildings and structures from the parks on a routine basis,” Scholtz stated. “In this case, I consulted the parks commission and then decided to have the sign removed in order to reduce potential conflicts in the park.”

He said that current park policy prohibits signs that do not serve informational purposes.

But a number of Christians urged the Ottowa County Board of Commissioners to the restore the sign to its place, and a petition was launched over the matter. In late January, the board voted 9-2 to reinstall the sign, but also said that text regarding the history of its placement would be added. According to reports, the sign was part of an agreement that the county made with resident Titus Hager when he deed the land to them.

Now, park officials are unveiling the design for an informational sign that will be erected next to the original Scriptural display. The sign includes a photograph of Hager, after whom the park was named, a history of the adjacent sign, and a disclaimer stating that Hager’s views are not necessarily those of county officials.

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But there was recently disagreement about some of the proposed wording for the sign, which stated that the Bible display was removed following a “request by citizens.” Some stated that the phrase “by citizens” implied that there were a number of complaints when there was only one request, and so the Commissioners thus suggested that the two words be removed.

“The thought was that implied that there were a large number of or at least an unknown number of citizens; there was a letter supposedly representing two citizens, and so we just took that reference out,” John Scholtz, director of Ottawa County Parks and Recreation told local television station WZZM-TV. “Language now will just say there was a request to remove the sign, rather than imply that there were a lot of citizens requesting to remove the sign.”

The Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter last month to the Commission, requesting that it reverse its decision to restore the sign, but the board has said that it is unlikely that it will change their minds.

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  • Benita Kimberly Bylicki-Marzio

    ONE PERSON, JUST ONE complains, and they take a sign down that has hung for 40 years! People petition to have the sign returned, and it is, only to have a disclaimer on it, oh how the mighty have fallen. Oh my, the sign offends someone and here we go, this country has gone to hell in a handbasket, and its organizations like Freedom from Religion that need to be removed, not signs that promote beauty and hope and faith. I woke up one day and the country I loved and grew up in, was gone, and I weep for it will never again, be the land of the free and the home of the brave. It will never be a Christian nation again, thanks to the liberal idiots who have taken over our country.

    • Paul Hiett

      I wonder how upset you’d be if it was quote from the Koran.

      • I wonder how upset you’d be if it was a quote from the Bible

        • Paul Hiett

          It is a quote from the Bible.

      • Yvonne Celeste Lee

        It often amazes me how the assumption is that the Old Testament has to be related only to Christianity when Christianity was not even born yet when Psalms was written. It was the Jewish king David that wrote most of the Psalms. Later Christianity included it in their writings, but even Mohammed read and took from (not giving credit) many verses in the Old Testament. And, yes, I am sure that all Muslim countries would leave their Koran up, even if thousands of Christians complained.

        • Paul Hiett

          I’m not talking about Muslim countries…I’m talking about how tolerant Christians would be if the park sign was a quote from Islam.

        • Craig Reynolds

          From textual research by scholars who know better – “Jewish tradition ascribes the authorship of all the Psalms to David. This may be due in part to his reputation as a singer and musician, but the wide variety in dating and language makes it clear that there are many different authors involved with these works, all writing over the course of many years. Among the authors that various Psalms are ascribed to are: Solomon, Moses, disciples of Ezra, and Ethan. Some of the Psalms could certainly have been written around the time David would have lived and so might have actually been written by him, but impossible to say for sure.”

      • Benita Kimberly Bylicki-Marzio

        Paul its not a matter of the sign being the Koran, or the bible or the Buddhist, or whatever, its the fact that the sign was not promoting Jesus , it was a sign promoting beauty that has been there for 40 years. Yes it was a Bible quote, so what, the point again is ONE PERSON tried to have it removed because it was a bible verse, I can ask you the same question, would that one person been upset if it had been a quote from the Koran? This has reached the point of insanity. If its Christian its got to be taken down, removed, how stupid is this getting, when does it end? Gee, lets take down Mt. Rushmore. Lets take down the Presidential monuments, they offend somebody, Lets take down the Supreme Court, because it has statues of Moses and religious inscriptions and the ten commandments. Look at this insanity, shall we take down the crosses and bible verses out of the VA Cemeteries, or any other cemetery. There was an article recently where a Muslim family wanted a man dug up out of his grave because it was next to their family member, I mean come on already, as a society were going nuts. Does everyone who objects to these Christian symbols, believe if they take it down, that if they remove every vestige of Christianity in this country that Christianity will cease to exist? They tried it in Russia, they tried it in other communist countries, it just went underground. Christianity has lasted for over 2000 years, its not going anywhere, and neither are any other ancient religions, people will continue to have religion in their lives and hearts no matter who doesn’t like it.

        • Craig Reynolds

          It was a sign over forty years in age promoting beauty that had evolve over four billion years and assigning that fact to some concept that exists in very different textual incarnations in a variety of religions. But for the people enjoying the view and seeing that sign – what text will this script trigger? And in pulling that trigger, will the visitor be warmly pleased or irked as a result of the implied argument that all this natural delight belongs to a god of the Jewish Torah or the Christian New Testament or maybe Muhammad’s Qur’an but probably not to anything a Hindu or a Buddhist or a Native American or someone like me consider? The informational plaque suggested as the solution to the problem of the public display of this phrase is the best, let’s look at the history of the placement of the sign and dispense of any second-guessing

          • Benita Kimberly Bylicki-Marzio

            . According to reports, the sign was part of an agreement that the county made with resident Titus Hager when he deed the land to them.
            Its was an agreement made, when the land was deeded to the county, if the agreement cannot be abided any longer than the land should be returned to the surviving heirs of Hagers estate.

    • thoughtsfromflorida

      “its organizations like Freedom from Religion that need to be removed”

      So you don’t support free speech, correct?

      “I woke up one day and the country I loved and grew up in, was gone”

      What was gone?

      “It will never be a Christian nation again”

      It never was a Christian nation, Benita.

      • Doggone it! you’re right, all those Pilgrims who were coming here for religious freedom were atheists, muslims, and jews!

        • Paul Hiett

          LOL…so in your mind, “religious freedom” really means “Christianity only!”

          How cute.

        • thoughtsfromflorida

          Religious freedom? LOL What a riot. You think the Pilgrims supported religious freedom?

          You mean the Pilgrims who branded the foreheads of “unbelievers”, labeled left-handed people as being possessed by the devil, and burned “witches” at the stake? Those Pilgrims?

          What a lovely bunch they were.

          • That’s right! this country was founded by…wait for it…CHRISTIANS! holy crap there goes your argument right down the toilet.

          • Paul Hiett

            And tell us what the Constitution says about our official religion?

          • It’s Christianity.

          • Paul Hiett

            I see. Can you show me where…anywhere, for that matter…that says that our official religion is Christianity?

          • Right at the top next to the picture of Jesus watermark.

          • Paul Hiett

            In other words, no, you can’t show anything that supports Christianity as being the only religion in America. I didn’t think so.

          • In other words I’m just messing with you and you’re still not getting it. Oh well, Jesus is Lord. Chew on that for awhile.

          • thoughtsfromflorida

            That’s not a watermark. It’s an actual picture (selfie) that has faded over time.

          • thoughtsfromflorida

            Holy crap – nothing in our constitution mentions Christianity – which means you have no argument at all!

      • The Last Trump

        We love freedom of speech. Freedom FROM Religion does not. Obviously censorship and suppression is not FREEDOM, oh confused “thinker” from Florida.

        • thoughtsfromflorida

          Benita doesn’t. She thinks that people she doesn’t agree with should be removed from the country.

          “Obviously censorship and suppression is not FREEDOM”

          So then you believe that unless citizens are allowed to say whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want, we don’t have freedom of speech, correct?

      • Benita Kimberly Bylicki-Marzio

        The only free speech left in this country is the one the government tells you , you can have! Just don’t profess or speak about Christianity, cuz then your a hater! It was very much a Christian nation once, my friend, but no its not anymore that is for sure. I do not know how old you are, I am 56 years old, and I remember well, from my generation, No stores or bars were open on Sunday. Prayer was still allowed in school as were the ten commandments. Sunday was a day of worship, to whatever church you belonged to. Every government office at Christmas had a outdoor nativity along with homes and businesses. Nobody dared blasphemed the name of Jesus, let alone attacked Chrisitans, we lived in peace with our neighbors, but then again we knew our neighbors and they knew us. In public schools, we were never disrespectful to others who had a different faith or belief. Jewish people had their holidays, we had ours, the same with a few of the as we called them then Moslem kids. WE did not have to be PC about everything we said or did. We knew if we messed up, we went to the principals office, and then we had to face our parents. We are becoming humanist atheistic Marxist communist society, and there is nothing that will change that. Our children have grown up taught by college professors with Marxist ideals, and I can speak on that because towards the end of my high school years, we had the honor and I use that word loosely, of Howard Simon, come and speak to our history class. I knew he was full of it then, and it has only gotten worse in the thirty something years I have been out of school. Freedom From Religion, ACLU all communist Marxist organizations. No we are not a Christian nation, no unless some major things happen in this country, and the world, we will never know or see the freedoms again, we once had, nor will we ever see a return to the morals we once had.. I am so glad I am 56 years old, I don’t want to see, the next 100 years go by, God help us all, I doubt if there will even be an America anymore. Sad, very sad..

        • thoughtsfromflorida

          “The only free speech left in this country is the one the government tells you , you can have!”

          So the government has published a list of things you can speak about and things you can’t? I didn’t know that. Where can I get a copy of this list?

          “Just don’t profess or speak about Christianity, cuz then your a hater!”

          Well I see that the freedom to use hyperbole is still in place.

          “It was very much a Christian nation”

          No, it was not. It certainly was, and still is, a nation with many citizens professing to be of the Christian faith, but it was not a Christian nation.

          I am 57, so we grew up in the same time period.

          Like you, I remember when stores were not allowed to be open on Sunday, resulting in NO ONE being allowed to shop because Christians didn’t think ANYONE should be able to on the day THEY had as their sabbath.

          I remember when bars were not allowed to be open nor liquor be sold in stores, because Christians didn’t want ANYONE to be able to do so because THEY didn’t think it was right on the day THEY had as their sabbath.

          I remember when the Christian faith was forced onto all students in public schools, ignoring all other religions and completely disrespecting the beliefs of others.

          I remember when the government – which is charged with representing all the people of all faiths and no faith and is funded by people of all faiths and no faith – favored and promoted the Christian religion above others.

          What you are lamenting is not a loss of freedom of speech, but rather the loss of Christianity as a favored religion and one which was allowed to impose its beliefs on the population at large. You are lamenting that the Christian belief system is not a basis for restricting the rights of others. You are lamenting that Christianity is no longer given a place of privilege above other beliefs. You are lamenting that everyone isn’t required to live according to what YOU believe they should be doing or not doing. In other words, you are lamenting that you are no longer allowed to selfishly and disrespectfully impose on the rights of other citizens.

          Sorry, sister, but we are diverse nation. We are waking up to the fact that under our constitution, Christianity does not get to determine the rules that every citizen must live under. It’s called “sharing”, and some Christians don’t much like it. Well, wha, wha, wha – get over yourself.

          I get that some Christians are all upset that Christianity can no longer be forced upon society as a whole through laws that are based upon the Christian belief system. They have loved their position of privilege and don’t like having to be on equal footing both with other religions, and with people of no faith. But because they no longer get special treatment and no longer get to set the rules for others, does not mean that you don’t have the freedoms you had before. It means you can no longer impose upon the freedoms others have.

          Rather than lamenting the loss of Christian-imposed laws, you should be celebrating that we are more completely fulfilling our dedication to freedom, liberty, and equality for all. You are putting your personal desire to control above the principles of our nation. Sad, very sad.

          • Guzzman

            You provide many excellent points regarding the history of Christian privilege in our country. In my lifetime, I have seen our original national motto given to us by our Founding Fathers changed from “E Pluribus Unum” (from many, one) to “In God We Trust” and “under God” added to our Pledge of Allegiance. What a slap in the face to our Founding Fathers. Now that non-believers and religious minorities are standing up for their Constitutional rights, it is perceived as persecution by many Christians.

          • thoughtsfromflorida

            Like petulant children.

    • Frank

      Lamentations 1

  • How to troll the FFRF, also known as “Furries”
    1. Be a Christian
    ……and that’s it.

    • Paul Hiett

      Actually, the FFRF wouldn’t have been contacted if Christian signs weren’t on government property.

      • #don’t care

      • The Last Trump

        Huh. That’s weird, eh Paul?
        IT’s NOT a Christian country according to you and yours.
        And yet, there are Christian signs covering the land from sea to shining sea, and in particular, as you have pointed out, all over government property. So weird……..

        The mystery continues, eh pal? You guys are a joke. Ever get tired of looking foolish? NO? Keep coming back then, ya hear!

        • Benita Kimberly Bylicki-Marzio

          You know, these new liberals fit perfectly into a saying I got in 5th grade by a wonderful teacher, “There are two kinds of people in this world, the dumb, and the ignorant. The dumb want to learn, the ignorant do not, because the ignorant think they know it all!
          One bible verse fits perfectly in conversations with the liberal thinking here, Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.
          Only the fool says in his heart, there is no God.
          Every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord!

  • thoughtsfromflorida

    It seems that the county came up with a very reasonable compromise.

  • MC

    Atheists lose again.

  • Gary

    Never, ever give land to any government. The haters of God are in charge of all governments now (local, state and federal). It is WAY past time that we offered resistance to most things any government wants to do. Complain regularly. Demand that taxes be reduced at every level. Demand that spending be reduced for everything the government does. Refuse to serve in the military. Cause as much trouble for the government that you can legally and have the energy for.

    • Paul Hiett

      Kinda hard to hate something that doesn’t exist, Gary.

  • Logic&Emotion

    A very logical decision based on the historicity of the sign, the request by citizens of the county and deed owner. Obviously the citizens of the county appreciate the significance of the message, placement and history of the sign. Good for the citizens of Ottawa. A single request which is documented really doesn’t represent the County’s wishes based on the petition by Christian folk who appreciate the significance of Psalms.

  • sammy13

    But last year, an unidentified resident complained to officials about the sign, asserting that it was wrongful to promote Christianity with public resources.

    Actually, this would be promoting Judaism as it is from the Hebrew Bible.

  • NCOriolesFan

    The revised sign should highlight the agreement between the land owner and the park over the wording of the sign, not use the revised sign as a disclaimer to prevent any religious bigot lawsuit(s).

  • cobalt100

    That sign needs to be removed by any means. It is a stranger, an interloper, an intruder in a public setting. Would a sign bearing a Muslim quote be allowed to hang there? Not for long. That’s why that sign has to be taken down.

  • Christian

    The thing everyone keeps forgetting is the Constitution!!!! It reads Freedom OF Religion not from!!!!! Why are the atheists allowed more power than the Christians or even Jews? Because the atheists scream the hardest, loudest and longest!!!! Christians need to continue fighting for frees speech and freedom OF religion or we will lose every last bit of freedom we have. Wake up sheeple (atheists included) we are sadly heading towards a one world religion. Wake up and look around you. Watch the most recent “prayer” breakfast at the White House!!!