The Anderson County man who spearheaded the drive to install “In God We Trust” signs on the county’s courthouse says he believes the man who challenged the signs this week is just trying to “get out of jail free”. Oak Ridge businessman Lynn Byrge was responding to a legal motion by Kenneth Darrin Fisher of Clinton, who claims the signs violate his freedom of worship rights. Fisher, a Cherokee descendent who follows the spiritual path known as the “Red Road”, is currently awaiting trial for allegedly trying to murder his wife.
The motion to drop the charges against Fisher was filed on Wednesday by his attorney, David Stuart of Clinton. The motion claims the inscription has “converted the Anderson County Courthouse into a place of worship and recruitment and rendered it a temple of fundamentalist Christianity.”
“(In God We Trust) is the motto of the United States,” Byrge told WUOT News, “and the Congress encouraged us to place that on government buildings all across the country.” Stuart is just “wanting publicity”, Byrge says.
Stuart says Byrge's claim is "laughable." He says Byrge and the others promoting the signs are the ones who are trying to attract publicity.
The first of four “In God We Trust” signs was installed and dedicated earlier this week after months of debate among Anderson County Commissioners. Byrge’s proposal was approved in April after County Mayor Terry Frank and dozens of local churches endorsed it.
Byrge says he got the idea after a similar sign was erected above the entrance to the City Hall building in Algood, Tenn.
“This is something that should pull the country together,” says Byrge, “and here in Anderson County, I think it has.”