The Adams County Board of Supervisors wanted to send a message when all seven members voted to display a wall-mounted acrylic “In God We Trust” sign over the treasurer’s office in the county courthouse.
Now, a local woman is teaming up with Satan to mock the nation’s motto by demanding “equal access” for a list of “The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth” to be posted next to the new courthouse sign.
“Now more than ever, it is critical our public spaces be a welcoming space for all people, regardless of their religious beliefs,” Hastings resident Margaret Marsh told the board at a meeting last week.
Marsh said the new In God We Trust sign bothered her, so she launched a GoFundMe campaign and raised enough money to buy a 4-foot by 6-foot sign to display a different religious message she knows people won’t like, the Hastings Tribune reports.
“We wanted to choose something that people wouldn’t be overtly comfortable with,” she said. “We also wanted to choose a church that is recognized by the government and they do have tax exemption status through the IRS. They met the criteria we were looking for.”
Marsh said she’s not instigating a fight for her religion, she’s fighting for no religion.
“None of us know any Satanists,” she said. “We didn’t want to choose a faith that we know there are people in our community that are practicing and have them become a target of any sort of campaign of people who are displeased with our action.”
Marsh consulted with the Nebraska ACLU and believes the U.S. Constitution requires the Adams County Board to display The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth alongside the In God We Trust sign, or take down all references to a higher power.
“My correspondence with the Nebraska ACLU has assured me that although we cannot prevent the Adams County Board of Supervisors from displaying the phrase, the board must extend the same opportunities of expression to any other organization that submits such a request,” she said.
“In their words, ‘The First Amendment protections of religious freedom includes two complementary protections: The right to religious belief and expression and a guarantee that the government neither prefers religion over non-religion nor favors particular faiths over others.”
“It is our belief that posting ‘In God We Trust’ in a place of governmental business violates the second principle of these protections,” Marsh told the Tribune. “Federal courts have routinely ruled that should governmental agencies allow religious images in public spaces, they must abide by the principle of equal access.”
It’s all a ploy to convince the board to take down the In God We Trust sign because she doesn’t like it.
Marsh contends she’ll cancel the purchase of the Satanic banner if the board promises in writing to ban all references to religion from the courthouse. Otherwise, she plans to sue.
If the board caves, the money raised from the GoFundMe page would go to the ACLU.
“We sincerely hope to gift the money to the ACLU, but we are prepared to advocate for our project through all necessary means, including litigation,” Marsh said.
Marsh fled the board meeting after reading a prepared statement, according to the news site.
Adams County board members conferred with the County Attorney Donna Fegler Daiss and Deputy County Attorney Dave Bergin about the legality of the In God We Trust Sign.
“You can do it,” Daiss said. “Just keep in mind you may be inviting other things.”
All of the board members agreed to install the In God We Trust Sign this week despite the threat.
The GoFundMe page, meanwhile, has raised $475 from 14 people over the last two months.
The stunt comes about a month after Marsh lost a bid for the Hastings City Council to represent Ward 2.
Marsh told the Tribune in October she was born and raised in the city, where she taught theater at the community college. She campaigned on clean energy, inclusiveness, embracing diversity, and saving the city’s trees from climate change.
“Weather is wreaking havoc on our trees,” she said. “Severe ice storms, severe droughts are taking a toll.”