Atheist under fire for challenging 10 Commandments monument

By Arnold Wyrick

MARION, IL (KFVS) - The atheist who's fighting state funding for the Bald Knob Cross in Alto Pass talks to the Marion city council about a proposed Ten Commandments monument.

Monday night he squared off with those who want to put up a monument of the Ten Commandments in the Marion Tower square.

The square is the center piece of the community. There are war memorials and memorials to remind people of the tragedy from a tornado in 1982, now Marion resident Ken Kessler wants to place a Ten Commandments monument on the square.

Something atheist Rob Sherman opposes.

"When a Ten Commandments is put on a public square it implies governmental endorsement," Sherman said.

"I'm here to explain to the mayor and the city council why it's such a bad idea to have private expression like that enshrined on the tower square," he added.

Several members of area churches gathered at Tower Square for a prayer vigil and to support the monument proposal.

"What right do they have to prevent my Ten Commandments of the United States of America which I served in the marine corps to defend the right to put it there," said Rabbi Moshe Laurie of Congregation Adat Ariel.  

"Now they're going to tell me a marine I can't come by and see it," he added.

Sherman tried to explain to Marion city council members why he says they can't put the monument up and to warn them of a possible legal battle.

Marion Mayor Bob Butler had some strong words for Sherman.

"We do not appreciate you traveling 300 miles to come down here to tell us how we should live. How we should believe and how we should respect the gospel truth,"  Butler said.

Commissioner J.W. Rix also had strong words for Sherman.

"I've never knowingly listened to or face a atheist, I want you to know you make me sick to my stomach," Rix said.

Sherman didn't back down he says he's only asking city leaders to be fair towards everyone, including those who don't have religious beliefs.

"I'm asking the government to remain scrupulously about matters of faith, so that all citizens will be equally loved by the government."

While some confronted Rob Sherman on his way out of the meeting others congratulated council members.

The Marion city council did not vote on the issue Monday night.  They will be voting on it in an upcoming council meeting.

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