WINDER, Ga. — About five members of the House of Prayer, a black Atlanta church, have joined the head of a Ku Klux Klan splinter group and a few dozen other people protesting to keep a Ten Commandments poster hanging in the Barrow County Courthouse.
The ACLU wants a federal judge to force the county to remove the framed parchment copy from the courthouse. The ACLU has filed suit, saying the display infringes on constitutional rights to be free from government-sponsored religion.
Joseph J. Harper of Cordele, who organized today’s demonstration, is the self-described imperial wizard of the American White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
The House of Prayer got national attention last year when the minister and four church members were convicted of aggravated assault and cruelty to children for whipping two boys.
The rally was planned to support the Barrow County commissioners, who voted in June to fight a legal challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union over the display.
Lane Downs, a spokeswoman for Commission chairman Eddie Elder, says Elder does not mind that a Klan member was leading the rally. Downs says Elder, who strongly opposes taking down the Ten Commandments poster, will take “all the help he can get.”
Some protesters were more wary of the Klan’s involvement.
Ten Commandments supporter Angela Woodall says she opposes the Klan but felt compelled to attend the Barrow rally for religious reasons. But she says the Klan presence almost kept her from coming.
On Monday, the Christian Coalition of Georgia plans its own press conference and rally at the courthouse, the same day the Council for Secular Humanism and the Atlanta Freethought Society will protest against the religious display at the state capitol.