Freedom From Religion Foundation Wants Circuit Attorney to Remove Bible Verse From Courthouse Wall

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has sent a letter to the circuit attorney of St. Louis, Missouri to request that a plaque displayed outside of her office at the Carnahan Courthouse be removed as it contains a quote from Deuteronomy 16:20.

According to reports, a local resident alerted FFRF to the plaque, which is affixed to the wall under Kimberly Gardner’s name and the circuit attorney seal. The sign reads in large lettering, “‘Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue …’ – Deut. 16:20.”

FFRF contends that the use of Scripture constitutes an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion.

“We write to request that this sign be removed, both because it represents a government endorsement of religion in violation of the First Amendment, and because it advocates a form of ‘justice’ that is incompatible with constitutional principles,” the letter, sent on Monday, reads.

“The Establishment Clause prohibits government sponsorship of religious messages,” it states. “Federal courts have upheld restrictions on religious displays on government property because such restrictions exist to avoid Establishment Clause violations.”

The correspondence also argues that the “form of justice” that the Scripture represents—namely biblical justice—is “incompatible” with the U.S. Constitution.

“Deuteronomy lays out … God’s laws in exhausting detail, and it is the strict adherence to these laws that this verse refers to as justice,” it notes. “This [Scripture] is immediately followed by a warning not to worship the goddess Asherah or else risk invoking Yahweh’s wrath.”

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“The Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of our First Amendment work in tandem to safeguard the fullest expression of religious liberty for all; Deuteronomy demands that we worship Yahweh and Yahweh alone, and threatens severe punishment from on high for breaching this dictate,” the letter laments.

FFRF is asking that Gardner remove the Bible verse as it believes the prosecuting attorney’s walls should rather “reflect … a more rational and progressive system of justice than that championed in Deuteronomy.”

Read the letter in full here. 

It is not yet known whether or not Gardner plans to respond.

As previously reported, John Adams, second president of the United States, wrote in his diary on Feb. 22, 1756, “Suppose a nation in some distant region, should take the Bible for their only law book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited. Every member would be obliged in conscience to temperance and frugality and industry, to justice and kindness and charity towards his fellow men, and to piety and love, and reverence towards almighty God.”

“In this Commonwealth, no man would impair his health by gluttony, drunkenness or lust—no man would sacrifice his most precious time to cards, or any other trifling and mean amusement—no man would steal or lie or any way defraud his neighbour, but would live in peace and goodwill with all men. No man would blaspheme his Maker or profane his worship, but a rational and manly, a sincere and unaffected piety and devotion, would reign in all hearts.”

“What a Eutopia, what a paradise would this region be,” Adams declared.

Read Adams’ writings here at the National Archives.


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