Atheist group wants Ohio religious mural taken down

An atheist group based in Wisconsin wants a religious mural taken down in Ohio since it says the Findlay Municipal Building's mural was in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

(REUTERS/Mike Segar)An atheist group wants the removal of a mural of an eagle with a Psalm 91 phrase at a government building.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation stated in letters sent to City Law Director Don Rasmussen and Findlay Municipal Court Clerk David Spridgeon that a "concerned citizen" had told them about the mural. The mural was sprawled on four panels on the wall of the municipal building and had a flying eagle artwork as well as a phrase from Psalm 91 that said, "Under his wings shall you find refuge."

"It is inappropriate for the county to display this religious message on the wall of the Findlay Municipal Court because it conveys government support for religion," FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert wrote. "A reasonable observer would view the text as an endorsement of religion by Findlay. The mural calls for viewers to seek refuge in the Christian God."

Markert also reminded Spridgeon in the letter that the municipal court served people from all walks of faith, and the mural with its Christian citation can likely alienate 24 percent of Americans who do not believe in religion.

Spridgeon and Rasmussen acknowledged the receipt of the letter two weeks ago. The latter said the mural would stay on the wall while they reviewed the group's complaint  in relation to the laws.

The mural has been in the hallway of the court's administrative offices, and not inside a municipal court, on the third floor of the building since 2012. An unnamed female artist painted the design as her donation to the city. Rasmussen noted that there had not been any complaints about the mural until now.

The FFRF, which has been established since 1978, has over 32,000 members across America and at least 800 members in its Ohio chapter. The group has been working to keep the state and the church or religion separate, as mandated in the U. S. Constitution.