Organization asks tax commissioner to remove Christian signs - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Jeff Davis Tax Commissioner mulls removing Christian signs

HAZLEHURST, GA (WTOC) -

Bible scriptures and other messages that have inspired some have aggravated others that visit the Jeff Davis County courthouse. A national group has asked the tax commissioner to remove the plaques from her office lobby.

Jeff Davis County Tax Commissioner Susie Kersey said she's received nothing but compliments for the plaques of scripture and other inspirational messages displayed in her office lobby. But a national organization that monitors the separation of church and state notified her they had received a complaint. The Freedom From Religion Foundation has sent her two letters asking her to remove them.

"I was in complete shock when I opened the letter. That was one thing that I never expected," she noted.

Kersey, in her first term as commissioner, but an office employee for more than 25 years, told WTOC she asked the county attorney for advise and was told to leave them in place until county commissioners could discuss the matter.

She and a crowd of supporters met with commissioners and a private attorney Thursday. David Gibbs told them a lawsuit from the foundation could be costly to both Kersey and Jeff Davis County. He said a court could likely rule the signs give the appearance the county promotes one set of religious views over others.

A secondary discussion included who had jurisdiction over the tax office in the courthouse: the county commissioners or the tax commissioner - an elected constitutional officer. After much discussion, the commissioners said they would support whatever action the tax commissioner took.

But Kersey hasn't reached a decision.

"As of now, they'll stay," she said. "But I have legal counsel and we'll be doing some talking about what avenues we have."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation did not give her a timetable for response, but requested she advise them if/when she took action.

Copyright 2012 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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