By BosNewsLife Americas Service
BARTOW, USA (BosNewsLife)-- A group of outraged Christian residents in a Florida city planned to meet local officials Monday, October 7, after they were ordered to remove their "God Bless America" yard signs, local media reported.
About 300 of the signs were handed out at First Baptist Church of the city of Bartow following a sermon celebrating the country's annual Independence Day on July 4.
But three months later, City of Bartow Code Enforcement told the residents temporary signs have worn out their welcome, the FOX 13 television network reported.
Residents of this American city told the station they had three days to pack it up or pay a minimum fine of $25 a day.
"Being a veteran, I felt like I was just kicked in the gut. I couldn't believe it, that I couldn't display my love for my nation by putting a sign up that says 'God Bless America'," Bartow resident Marcus Seger said.
Bartow Code Enforcement says its temporary sign ordinance dates back 13 years and already allows for some exceptions.
"They can have those signs out on holidays that are relevant. You can have a temporary sign around Christmas if it's related to Christmas. Or the 4th of July. The sign ordinance has exceptions for that," Bartow Code Enforcement Director Gregg Lamb told FOX 13.
But others argue that patriotism isn't limited to one day a year and warn their signs will stay put out of principal.
"I personally feel if it were on a city right-of-way, they would have a right to remove it. But this is my yard that I'm paying the taxes on. It's my right," said Bartow resident Emmett Purvis.
Residents said they would attend Monday night's Bartow City Commission meeting to ask commissioners for an exception to the ordinance.
It comes amid wider concerns among devoted Christians in America about what they view as interference by local or national authorities in their expression of faith. Among those targeted last year was American Pastor Michael Salman, who was jailed for holding an unauthorized Bible study at his home in the U.S. state of Arizona.
Last month, a Florida ministry that feeds the poor said a state agriculture department official told them they would not be allowed to receive food from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) unless they removed portraits of Christ, the Ten Commandments, a banner that read “Jesus is Lord” and stopping giving Bibles to the needy.
“They told us they could no longer allow us to have any religious information where the USDA food is going to be,” said Kay Daly, executive director of the Christian Service Center, in an interview with the FOX News network.
USDA officials said they were just following guidelines.
Praying can be tricky too. U.S. Navy chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt is among those removed from service for disobeying a “lawful” order banning prayer “in Jesus’ name”, He has fought for years against the government, seeking reinstatement and damages.
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is 'Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals' since 2004).
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