Published October 21, 2004
The battle over the display of the Ten Commandments has been a costly one, concedes Jody Hice.
"The bottom line for fundraising is that it's always been a challenge," says Hice, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bethlehem and president of Ten Commandments Georgia (TCG).
The group, according to its website at www.thoushalt.org, exists "to rebuild the moral foundation of Georgia through posting the Ten Commandments in homes and public buildings, teaching moral living to the next generation, elect[ing] like-minded individuals, registering like-minded voters and educating voters on responsible jury service."
According to Hice, funding has averaged $20,000 a month since the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Barrow County. The suit was brought on from an anonymous complaint over the posting of the commandments in the Barrow County courthouse in Winder.
Legal fees have mounted during the struggle, prompting exploration in funding at a council meeting Oct. 11.
"The county was behind on the attorney fees by some $81,000," says Hice. "They agreed to pay the fees."
Up unto that point, fees were paid through donations from citizens and groups. The council's decision meant that taxpayers' money would now be used.
It was at that meeting where Hice stated in front of the packed courtroom that TCG, which is tax-exempt, would raise the necessary amount to pay back the cost within six months. The group began by donating the first $10,000 that night. A few days later, Hice said TCG had raised another $10,000.
No lack of support
The group's president is quick to point out that the perceived shortage of funds in no way reflects a waning in support.
"Eighty percent of the state and 78% of the nation are in favor of the public display of the commandments, so the lack of funds is not due to lack of interest," he says. The funds aren't the problem as much as getting the word out to the people of the need."
Since its beginning, TCG has been raising money. "Basically, everything that comes into the organization goes straight to the county," says Hice. "[Each time] there would be no working capital at the end of the month."
TCG funds are now being reapportioned to generate more exposure, Hice explains.
"One campaign we are developing is "100 Godly Men." This is designed to get godly businessmen across the state to stand with us for moral issues and oppose groups such as the ACLU.
"We have an initial luncheon with a speaker. We ask three things of those who join: personally give $1,000-$5,000 within 30 days of the luncheon, raise $5,000-$10,000 within 90 days, and bring 1-3 men with them to the next luncheon."
The first luncheon was held Sept. 28 with former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore as speaker.
Art Hall was one of the 15 men who attended. An ordained deacon at Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula and past chairman of the board of trustees at Brewton-Parker College, Hall is CEO of the Survis Group, a personnel placement corporation for a variety of companies including Verizon, BellSouth, AT&T and Qwest.
"This is a proactive, grass-roots movement," he says. "When an ACLU attorney attempts to take away my constitutional rights, I want to be a part of a group who is intent on fighting that."
The next luncheon will be held Nov. 16 at Stoney River Legendary Steaks in Duluth at 11:30. For more information Hice can be reached at 1 (888) STAND4GA.
"I encourage Sunday School classes and churches to take up offerings as well," says Hice. "Those can be sent to Ten Commandments Georgia, Inc., PO Box 177, Bethlehem, GA 30620.
"This isn't just about the Ten Commandments but about religious liberty. We're facing an attempt to remove God and the acknowledgement of God from our community."
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