A South Carolina town that temporarily bowed to a heckler's veto and removed a monument financed by a local women's club now says it will return it.
"We screwed up, and we're owning that," Charlie Funderburk, city manager of Tega Cay, South Carolina, told NBC affiliate WCNC over the weekend. He's talking about the decision earlier in the week to remove a monument honoring slain police officers that had been erected in front of the local police station, on government property.
One side of the monument had wording from Jesus' statement "Blessed are the peacemakers" which recognizes, in this case, the role of the police in keeping the peace. The other side displayed a prayer for police officers that included the word "Lord" three times. Initially, those references to "Lord" were painted over after some complaints – then the entire monument was removed. Now, according to WCNC, it will be returned to its original spot.
UPDATE (August 9, 2019): The city of Tega Cay says it has decided to restore the Police Officer's Prayer to its "original condition" and return the Fallen Officers' Memorial to its location at the new police station.
OneNewsNow spoke with Attorney Roger Gannam of Liberty Counsel about the city's decision to remove the monument. He says court precedent should convince city leaders that references to "Lord" are legitimate.
"The Supreme Court just decided in the Bladensburg Cross case that religious references in and of themselves are not unconstitutional on government property," the attorney points out. "This country enjoys a long tradition of honoring religious references because that honors the citizens who put them there and who find them important."
City leaders acknowledge that in their desire to find a compromise about the monument, it has "further divided" the community and "upset parties on both sides of the issue – and for that, we are truly sorry." But according to the WCNC report, the references to "Lord" and the Bible verse will be kept off the monument when it's returned.
Editor's note: Story updated on August 9, 2019.