An atheist group is fighting to remove a Bible that rests on a podium inside a Florida city council chamber, sparking a heated battle over separation of church and state.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation – allied with Pinellas Park businessman Randy Heine – sent a letter to the city Monday which is now being reviewed by Pinellas Park’s attorney, Fox 13 reports.
"Not only is the city council sending a message of endorsement for Christianity over other religions and nonreligion," the letter says, "but display of this King James Bible sends a message of endorsement of one particular Christian sect over all others."
The letter cites federal court cases that resulted in the removal of Bibles from public facilities. The group also is taking issue with the city including advertisements for church-based events in their utility bill mailings, according to Fox 13.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation said it has sent past letters to the city – which have gone ignored – but the latest is being reviewed, according to Doug Lewis, who is set to become Pinellas Park City Manager next week.
"The Bible was given to the city by the Kiwanis Club, I believe, when the building was dedicated," Lewis said. "They feel it's part of City Hall, as being part of the dedication ceremony, and it's become part of the history of the building."