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Sign bearing Bible verse removed from Ottawa County public park

Dec 25, 2014

GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Officials in western Michigan's Ottawa County are expected to discuss the removal of a sign bearing the Bible's Psalm 19:1 verse from a public park.

  Mlive.com reports that parks and recreation staff were told to take down the sign which had been in Hager Park since the late 1960s or early 1970s after a Georgetown Township resident complained it promoted a particular religious view using public resources.

The county road commission originally placed the sign in the park. Current county officials said they are not sure who authorized it. They said they also don't know why Psalm 19:1 was chosen.
Credit Aaron Cooley Themm

The issue has been added to the Jan. 13 Ottawa County commissioners' work session meeting.

  Parks and Recreation Director John Scholtz says current policy prohibits signs that aren't used for information.

  Scholtz says he "decided to have the sign removed in order to reduce potential conflicts in the park." He's asked a county lawyer to review the issue and make a recommendation.

  Harvest Baptist Church senior pastor Ryan Kooienga has demanded the return of the sign to the park.

  "If we don't take a stand now, when will we?" he asked county commissioners on Tuesday.

  Aaron Cooley-Themm said he has collected about 800 signatures on a petition supporting the sign's return.

  The county road commission originally placed the sign in the park. Current county officials said they are not sure who authorized it. They said they also don't know why Psalm 19:1 was chosen.

  If Ottawa County allowed the sign to be returned to Hager Park, other religious expressions might have to be allowed, Scholtz said.