'God Bless America' signs can stay -- for now - FOX 13 News

'God Bless America' signs can stay -- for now

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BARTOW (FOX 13) -

The crowd at the Bartow City Commission meeting was ready for a fight.

They packed in the commission chambers ready to give the city a piece of their mind on the "God Bless America" sign controversy.

Last week about 20 property owners were told the lawn signs, which were given out by a local church on the July 4th holiday, were in violation of the city's sign code.

"When these signs began to go up around the 4th of July and given their patriotic message code enforcement viewed that in the same way they would view a holiday decoration," said Bartow City Manager George Long.

Holiday signs are exempt from the sign ordinance, but the belief was they need to be taken down in a timely manner.

Monday, those who found that outrageous packed the hall ready to read the city the riot act but a funny thing happened on the way to them "raging against the Bartow city machine."

Before anyone was able to walk to the mic, the city made a statement.

"The current situation involving the God Bless America signs was in no way intended to address the content or message being portrayed on those signs," said Bartow Mayor james Clements. "Despite recent media reports and social media misinformation to the contrary, the words 'God Bless America' are not prohibited in the city of Bartow."

Mayor Clements says the city attorney will study the ordinance and come back with recommendations if he thinks it needs to be changed.

That didn't keep people from giving the commission a piece of their minds.

"Having a sign in my yard that says that God Bless America is a daily reminder to me that I know God will bless America and that gives me hope," said Brenda Serpas of Bartow.

Those who have signs will be able to keep them up while the city investigates the ordinance.

A seemingly happy ending to a night that could have gone far worse.

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