Sunday, October 06, 2013

'God Signs' Forbidden in Yards by Florida City

Months after First Baptist Church of Bartow, Florida distributed 300 little 4th of July yard signs showing an American flag, a cross and the words "God Bless America," the city has demanded that citizens remove the "temporary signs" from their own property.  As complaints of totalitarian government mount, the city has retracted the threatened fines against property owners, and city commissioners are now bracing for further outcry at their regular public meeting tomorrow as more residents have begun to display the signs as an act of defiance.
"There's nothing in the [sign] ordinance that defines how long you can keep a sign up before or after a holiday."
-- Bartow Mayor James Clements (who placed the sign in his front yard Friday)
For background, click headlines below to read previous articles:

South Carolina County Forbids Biblical Signage, but Not Political Signage

New Hampshire Town Allows 'Signs for Jesus' after Lawsuit

Mississippi City Forbids Cross on Church Property

Vermont Resident Disturbed by Cross on Neighbor's Property

Pennsylvania Atheists Sue to Remove Ten Commandments from Church Land

Jesus Talk & Prayer Banned at Government Senior Housing

Florida City Finds Family Guilty of Home Bible Studies

Phoenix Christian Jailed for Home Worship Gatherings

-- From "No fines for 'holiday decorations,' city says" posted at WTVT-TV13 (Tampa, FL) 10/4/13

"It is clear that some recipients of the notices [to remove their signs] have interpreted them as an indication that their message of 'God Bless America' is in violation of city code. This interpretation is not the case or the intent of the city. Instead, the issue is and remains the sign type – not the message," City Manager George Long stated in a Friday evening press release.

"Code enforcement officers regarded these signs displaying the 'God Bless America' message as holiday decorations. After the July Fourth holiday, most were removed. However, three months after the holiday, code enforcement determined that display of these signs had gone well beyond what could be considered 'holiday decorations' relating to the Fourth of July, and that their continued display violated the code."

"These notices are not citations, and therefore, do not carry any fine or penalty. In fact, Bartow code enforcement officers are not empowered to impose such fines or penalties," Long insisted.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "'God Bless America' Signs vs. City Rules: Bartow Officials Feel Wrath of City Residents" by Suzie Schottelkotte, The Ledger (Lakeland, FL) 10/4/13

Word of the [code violation notice] door hangers exploded on Bartow's social media Friday, and dozens of residents have pledged to confront the City Commission about the issue at its meeting Monday.

"We've been inundated with calls today [requesting signs]," the Rev. Ron Burks, pastor of [First Baptist Church], said Friday. "I'm heading out now to pick up another 200 signs."

"I like the sign. It expresses how I feel and what I believe," [resident Olivia Hazell] said. "There are a lot of other things in the city that they could be focusing on besides these little signs."

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Bartow bans ‘God Bless America’ signs" by Joni B. Hannigan, Managing Editor, Florida Baptist Witness 10/5/13

[Marvin] Pittman, president of the Florida Baptist State Board of Missions and a retired member of law enforcement who served for 42 years, said the ordinance “probably wouldn’t stand judicial muster.”

As the ordinance is written, Pittman said it is “a very vague and very poorly worded ordinance.”

Although people being told to remove yard signs from their lawns may be “a little thing,” Pittman said he believes the “God Bless America” signs are being singled out for special attention—and that threatening to fine individuals if they don’t remove them can be compared to a violation of their fourth amendment rights by suggesting involuntary seizure.

“It’s a continuation of the erosion of our right of expression as Christians and it’s an erosion of our constitutional rights of free expression,” Pittman said.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

The root issue is American Religious Liberty vs. Anti-Christian Totalitarianism