published Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

‘Interfaith Rally’ held today at Hamilton County Courthouse

  • photo
    Brandon Jones, top left, and Tommy Coleman, top right, speak on behalf of the Hamilton County for the Separation of Church and State group to nearly two-dozen attendees during a rally held in front of the courthouse before the Hamilton County Commission meeting Wednesday.
    Photo by Dan Henry.
    enlarge photo

Twenty seven people attended the Hamilton County for Separation of Church and State's "Interfaith Rally" this morning on the courthouse steps.

Tommy Coleman and Brandon Jones, the two plaintiffs suing Hamilton County over the commission's invocations, said they called the rally to show commissioners a range of people support them.

"We're at risk of looking like two punks in a lawsuit," Coleman said.

Several supporters spoke out for a moment of silence or a more inclusive policy.

Baris Gursakal, 20, said the commission needs to be more inclusive on prayer and other issues.

"It's about the government directly endorsing religion before their public meetings," Gursakal said.

Though Tom Rose,63, didn't speak, he attended to support separation of church and state. Rose, a member of the Pilgrim Church, said his congregation strongly supports separation.

"We, as a congregation, just feel that it's important that every religion have a say in what their belief is," he said. "One particular religion should not have precedence."

Commissioners meet at 9:30 a.m.

Read more later at, and get the full story in Thursday's Times Free Press.

about Ansley Haman...

Ansley Haman covers Hamilton County government. A native of Spring City, Tenn., she grew up reading the Chattanooga Times and Chattanooga Free Press, which sparked her passion for journalism. Ansley's happy to be home after a decade of adventures in more than 20 countries and 40 states. She gathered stories while living, working and studying in Swansea, Wales, Cape Town, South Africa, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Ga., and Knoxville, Tenn. Along the way, she interned for ...

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