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Dispute over religious signs has Grove churches... - KOAM TV 7

Dispute over religious signs has Grove churches seeking change to city ordinance

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An alliance of churches in Grove, Oklahoma are working toward a meeting to change a city ordinance which restricts religious signs on privately held property.

Pastor Tony Wisdom of the Grove First Assembly of God along with 20 other churches in Grove are up in arms over a city ordinance which they say steps on their right to freedom of religion.  It's an ordinance they did not know was on the books until recently when putting up signs promoting a National Go Back to Church Day.

"We discovered that we had an issue because we found city trucks following along pulling our signs up, and even our city manager had gotten out to start pulling out the signs that said 'Rediscover Jesus,'" says Reverend Wisdom.

The city says similar signs were allowed in years past to promote the event with terms like "pray" and "church", simply because they were more inclusive.

"From a governmental perspective, those general terms were okay, they were non-threatening, but when you start putting out a particular name and a particular religion, in this case Christianity, that's when the issue arose," says Marty Dyer, a Grove city council member and pastor for Newsong Church in Grove.

Wisdom says it isn't just about the word "Jesus" on a sign, he says it's a wider issue and that the city ordinance is violating the freedom of religion for all residents in Grove.

Churches plan on taking the battle forward and have already voiced concerns at a local city council meeting.

Dyer says a more formal meeting is in the works between the local churches and the city council to work out the future of the city ordinance.

No date has been set for the meeting between the city manager and local church groups in Grove.

Dyer says it is likely to occur within the next month.

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