The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Atheist activist plans to battle County Board on 10 Commandments

  • COUNTY COURTHOUSE--It appears the County Board has a fight on its hands regarding the Ten Commandments.

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  • It appears the County Board has a fight on its hands regarding the Ten Commandments.
    In October, the board tentatively decided to allow voters to determine by referendum whether or not a Ten Commandments monument should be erected on Courthouse property. The referendum would likely be placed on the April ballot. At the November 17 meeting, further action was tabled until the new board is seated in December.
    However, an atheist activist who fought a $20,000 state grant to Bald Knob Cross and a Ten Commandments monument at Tower Square in Marion has set his sights on Saline County as the next battleground. Rob Sherman is on the agenda for the next board meeting.
    "I am on the agenda for Dec. 21, 7 p.m., to make a brief, polite and courteous presentation to the County Board on the Ten Commandments issue," Sherman said.
    "My perspective is that putting it at the county Courthouse is unconstitutional."
    An alternate proposal, mentioned at the October meeting by Bruce Tolley, to place a monument on property owned by Clearwave corporation does not violate the Constitution, Sherman said.
    Sherman is an activist from Buffalo Grove, about 25 miles northwest of Chicago. His Internet site, robsherman.com, includes several articles about his take on church-state issues and his activities in court cases.
    In order to mount a challenge to the Ten Commandments monument in court, Sherman will need a plaintiff from Saline County to file a case, which he expects to find without too much difficulty.
    "The number one principle of social activism is it's only illegal if someone complains," Sherman said.
    One of six Americans is atheist, Sherman said, so in Saline County that means about 4,000 people might be atheist. In particular, a person going by the handle jimbo517, who posted a comment on the Oct. 29 Daily Register online article regarding the October County Board meeting, may be a candidate, Sherman said. The commenter said he was willing to sue if the board goes through with its intention to place the monument at the Courthouse. Sherman has not yet been in contact with the commenter, or any other potential plaintiffs.
    From a monetary perspective, a Ten Commandments monument at the Courthouse would be good for his cause, Sherman said.
    "If the County Board were to put the Ten Commandments on the Courthouse property, that would be a boon to the atheists of Illinois," Sherman said.
    "That's how donations start rolling in."
    He also pointed out the government body has to pay the attorney fees of the plaintiff if it loses in federal court, which is the likely venue for such a case.
    "So all this will do is make the atheists money and our lawyers money," Sherman said.
    Page 2 of 2 - "So as the old saying goes, 'Hit me, I need the money.'"
    Sherman said unconstitutional actions like placing the Commandments on Courthouse property have to be fought every time because courts eventually interpret monuments or similar postings as tradition and therefore allowable.
    "This thing is like a cancer. If you allow it to happen in one community, the next community says, 'hey, Saline County has one, why can't we,'" Sherman
    Sherman also knows his reception in Saline County will be similar to what he received in Williamson County -- not too warm.
    "Some people try to become popular by telling people what they want to hear. I seek to earn respect b telling them what's right and by getting them to follow my lead," Sherman said.
    FYI:  Shermans's telephone number is 847-870-0700.
    On the Internet: www.robsherman.com/news/home.htm.