God Bless Champaign CountyPosted by Phil Ferguson on October 30th, 2012 – 12 Comments – Posted in Uncategorized
Last Friday I went and voted early at the office of the Champaign (Illinois) County Clerk’s office. I learned about early voting several years back and have done it every time since then. For Champaign County you just walk in, show your ID, answer a few questions and they give you your ballot. It is quick, easy and painless. The whole process takes only about 10 minutes. You can even go to their web site and pull up your ballot in advance so, you will know every choice you have. It is a nice system and I recommend that everyone go vote early!
This year I noticed a sign on the wall so every person could see it. It looked just like this….
I was surprised! This is not Alabama. This is a very liberal college community but, I do have to admit the cities of Champaign and Urbana are surrounded with several small god fearin’ towns.
I mentioned to two of the clerks in the office that some would consider that sign inappropriate and maybe unconstitutional. One of them was very nice about it but the other had a little bit of an attitude and even suggested that I should talk to Mr. Hulten about it. I have to admit that the though had crossed my mind but her suggestion that I should talk to him seemed to be the last little nudge that I needed to ask to see him. Mr. Gordy Hulten is the Champaing County Clerk. This young lady went and found him for me.
I am going to recount our conversation the best I can below. Before I start, I wanted to say that Mr. Hulten was courteous and polite for our entire conversation.
This is a crude approximation of our conversation….
GH (that is Mr. Gordy Hulten Picture top right) – How may I help you sir?
Me (that’s me) – I just wanted to see if I can take a minute of your time to talk about your sign.
GH – What sign is that?
Me – The one with the flag over there on the wall.
GH – OK.
Me – It’s my understanding that all people are welcome in this office.
GH – They are.
Me – Well, that sign does not make me feel welcome and I don’t think this public office should take a stand on the existence or lack of existence of any deities.
GH – I understand and I thank you for sharing your concerns.
Me – o_O
Me – Uh, ok. Just to be clear…. I am formally asking you to take down the sign.
GH – Thank you for your input, I will take that into consideration.
Me – oh? (a little shocked)
GH – Yes sir, thank you for coming in…. (attempting to close the conversation and starting to walk a way)
Me – uh, how will you notify me of your decision?
GH – Excuse me?
Me – Well, if you are taking into consideration that means at some time you will decide. You did not take my name, phone number or e-mail. How will you notify me of your decision.
GH – I see. Well, let’s just put it this way. The sign is not coming down. That is my decision.
Me – is there someone else here I can talk to?
GH – No, why?
Me – I was hoping that my request would receive more than 5 seconds of thought.
GH – Sir, It has! Your request has been made by several people and we have had long discussions about it.
Me – I’m sorry, I got a little carried away. I did not know that.
GH – No problem.
Me – So, if so many people complain…. Why is it still up?
GH – That sign has been there for 15 years – No problems!
Me – But, I am telling you it is a problem and you just said that others have complained in the past.
GH – Well it is staying right there.
Me – I would like to propose an experiment. For just one week you cover up god and put up Allah. I bet that most of the christians that come in here would complain and you would take it down.
GH – We are not here to perform experiments. Good day sir.
So, dear reader. Am I over reacting? Is this a violation of the separation of church and state, not a big deal or total legal but kind of a inconsiderate thing to put up in a government building?
What do you think the christians would say if the sign said Allah Bless America?
Please share your thought and considered legal opinions. Thanks!
Champaign County Clerk
1776 East Washington Street
Urbana, IL 61802
Election Services & Voter Registration (217) 384-3724
Fax: (217) 384-1241