Ten Commandments Debate

By: Hermelinda Vargas
By: Hermelinda Vargas

Event organizers for Defuniak Springs' annual Chautauqua Assembly say the series of lectures are intended to promote scholarly discussion and knowledge, but this year that effort has been somewhat overshadowed by the controversy surrounding one speaker's message about the Ten Commandments.

Reverend Bo Turner is speaking twice at Defuniak Springs’ 11-day series of lectures known as the Chautauqua Assembly, but he's only getting grief for one of his speeches.

"I'm just angry that those things that I really believe in, that are really true and dear to me, people want to try and destroy," says Jessica Monteleon, a Freeport resident.

Friday afternoon, the Georgia-based minister spoke about his successful lawsuit against his county to remove the Ten Commandments from its public buildings.

Turner says that he is aware that the Ten Commandments are hanging in the Walton County Courthouse.

"That's not my deal. If someone out here don't like it, they should do something about it. That's what I did," says Rev. Turner.

"I feel what he's doing is wrong, twisting the Constitution, and I'm here to stand up for the constitution and for our country," added Sunday Buckles, a Santa Rosa resident.

Protestors aren't the only ones opposed to Turner's message. Church-run TV-24 says it will not air its usual promotional interview for the event because of Bo Turner, and the First Baptist Church closed its doors to Turner's lecture even though it will still host all other previously-scheduled speakers.

"I think it's unfortunate. I think it's their loss if they don't want to hear a dissenting opinion, and after all, that's what it is. I haven't cornered the truth and they haven't either."

Despite the protests and the cold weather, some people did want to hear turner speak, and they paid six dollars for the privilege.

The Chautauqua Assembly will feature about 200 speakers over its 11-day course, including Florida Rep. Don Brown. Brown will speak counter to Reverend Turner's perspective on the Ten Commandments.


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