Ten Commandments

By: Hermelinda Vargas
By: Hermelinda Vargas

There's another religious debate taking place in Walton County, this one over the Ten Commandments. Several organizations are upset about one of the speakers at an annual lecture series in Defuniak Springs.

The minister has taken a stance against the Commandments being displayed in public buildings.

Dianne Pickett organizes an annual 11-day series of lectures known as the "Chautauqua Assembly or The Peoples' University."

"Chautauqua is all about scholarly discourse among adults in a very respectful manner on a variety of issues," says Dianne.

In the last few years, church-run TV-24 has aired a 30-minute interview with Pickett promoting the event, but not this year.

Pickett explains why.

"We have a speaker by the name of Bo Turner, who is a Baptist minister in north Georgia who successfully brought a suit against Habersteime County to have the Ten Commandments removed from the courthouse square."

"We chose not to help Mr. Turner promote his agenda, because we do believe that the Ten Commandments have a right to be in public places," says Pastor Wayne White, TV-24 General Manager.

Pickett has also arranged to have Florida Rep. Don Brown to speak counter to Reverend Turner's position, but that isn't enough balance for Pastor White.

"The liberals have tried to erode the foundation upon our nation was founded upon in talking of the separation of church and state and I can assure you Representative Don Brown will cover that topic very thoroughly at the Chautauqua Assembly," says Pastor White.

The church-run cable TV station is not the only entity shutting out the Georgia minister's lecture. Defuniak Springs’ First Baptist Church says its doors will still be open to all previously-scheduled speakers except for Reverend Turner, though it won't say why, only referring Newschannel 7's questions back to event organizer Dianne Pickett.

While Pickett, White and the First Baptist Church deal with each others' positions about a lecture about the Ten Commandments, Walton County displays them within its courthouse. So far, the display has gone unchallenged.

Besides the direct opposition to Reverend Turner's lecture, Pickett says she's also gotten several anonymous threatening phone calls.


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