Knoxville, Tennessee city leaders are bowing to pressure from an atheist group by removing a Bible verse that has hung in the city's police department for 50 years.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation threatened to sue the city unless they took down a plaque displaying a New Testament scripture. The plaque cites Romans 8:31, "What shall we then say to these things? If God befor us, then who can be against us?"
Some city leaders said they took the Bible verse down because they didn't have enough taxpayer money to fight a legal battle over its placement in a public building.
However, when CBN News inquired whether the city considered seeking legal help from law firms such as as the Alliance Defending Freedom, the American Center for Law and Justice or The Christian Legal Society, who sometimes litigate religious freedom cases for free, Knoxville Communications Director Jesse Mayshark said other officials determined the Freedom From Religion Foundation was correct and the plaque had to go.
In fact, Mayor Madeline Rogero, who identifies as a Christian, said in a news conference, "As our founders recognized when they wrote the Constitution, the best protection for religious liberty is to restrict the government's role in promoting or endorsing any particular faith."
"As Christians, we may not always realize that our co-workers or our constituents do not all see the world the same way we do. We may not understand that a Bible verse that gives us strength and comfort may send an entirely different message to someone else: That you are not welcome here, that this governmental body does not represent you," Rogero added.
The mayor went on to say that in an attempt to avoid singling-out Christianity, the police department is creating a "Hall of Inspiration," a section of the police department building devoted to all faiths. Plaques that have been selected to hang there include messages from Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism as well as from Christianity.
For the atheists, the "Hall of Inspiration" will include plaques displaying non-religious quotes about things such as kindness and courage from Martin Luther King, Jr., President Ronald Reagan, Mark Twain and Aristotle.
The "Hall of Inspiration" will display the original plaque that was taken down, and another one quoting the Bible, Matthew 5:9, "Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God."