CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A group of people did not seek permission before installing a monument of the Ten Commandments on the Wyoming County Courthouse lawn in Pineville this week, County Commission President Jason Mullins said, but he doesn't see a problem with it because it's meant to inspire others and isn't paid for with tax dollars.
"Our forefathers were adamant about the separation of church and state," he said, "but I don't think they ever intended for the elimination of church from state."
The monument raises constitutional concerns about discrimination against atheists and religious minorities, said Sarah Rogers, staff attorney for the West Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Rogers said she would be looking into the matter.
A group of churches and business leaders raised money and erected the monument outside but in front of the courthouse on Monday, Mullins said. The group did not ask for the commission's permission before building it. When commissioners saw them building it, they didn't object, he said.
In the future, he said, all groups must go through the commission before building anymore monuments on courthouse property.
Mullins said the monument could offend people but he doesn't understand why. He described himself as religious and said the Ten Commandments are "historical documents."
"It happened. It's real," he said. "It's information that is as much fact as any current history books."
The monument contains a message advising that the Ten Commandants are "to be used as a historical reference and model to enrich the knowledge of our citizens to an early origin of law."
The monument also reads that the Ten Commandments are: "the laws of GOD for all men. They are anointed by GOD JEHOVA as a promise of everlasting life ... . Read these words of GOD, but do not hide, destroy, or remove them from the people he loves."