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Group wants Adams County to ‘Practice Tolerance’

January 19, 2019

In an effort to be more inclusive, the group of local residents who wanted to see a sign hang in the Adams County Courthouse on behalf of the Church of Satan wants the message “Practice Tolerance” displayed instead.

Mother and daughter Jane and Margaret Marsh, both of Hastings, requested a 4-foot by 6-foot vinyl sign stating “Practice Tolerance” when they spoke during the public comment portion of the Adams County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.

“It’ll have symbols from various different religions,” Margaret Marsh said in an interview after the meeting. “It’s got a reference to science, indigenous people, transgender, that kind of thing. It’s broader than one entity.”

Because the issue was not on the agenda, the supervisors could not act on the request.

The request for a sign stating “Practice Tolerance” came out of the supervisors’ decision to erect a sign stating “In God We Trust” inside the Adams County Courthouse.

The supervisors approved a resolution requested by Barb Otto of Holt County on Sept. 4, 2018. Otto told the supervisors on Aug. 21, 2018, she accepted a challenge three years ago from Jacquie Sullivan of California with In God We Trust-America who needed a volunteer in each state with the goal of placing “In God We Trust” somewhere on the walls of the courthouse in every county.

The supervisors decided during their Sept. 18, 2018, meeting to let the buildings and grounds committee come up with a recommendation for the appearance and location of the sign for placement inside the courthouse.

The supervisors approved on Oct. 2, 2018, the buildings and grounds committee’s recommendation for a large, wall-mounted acrylic sign stating “In God We Trust” above the treasurer’s office windows in the courthouse. It was erected in December.

A few days before the sign went up, Margaret Marsh spoke at a county board meeting and stated she is part of a group of people raising money through a Go Fund Me campaign that had enough money to purchase a 4-foot by 6-foot vinyl Church of Satan banner that lists the “11 Rules of the Earth.”

At that point, four people had donated $95 to the Go Fund Me campaign. Now, 16 people have donated $520.

“It better represents the people who are in our group, too,” she said the inclusive “Practice Tolerance” sign.

She said because a printing company in South Carolina as well as a graphic designer in Lincoln are donating their services to make the sign, the money raised by the Go Fund Me campaign will be donated to the Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Even though the sign had been planned to represent the Church of Satan because the Church of Satan is one of 450,000 U.S. churches considered tax-exempt by the Internal Revenue Service, Margaret Marsh said she doesn’t think it weakens her group’s stance to go with a general thought instead of a single religion.

“We feel comfortable that our case is strong for the philosophy we’re proposing,” she said.

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