TEGA CAY, S.C. (WBTV) – City leaders in Tega Cay have removed a memorial after backlash from those both in support of a Biblical message and those who wanted the message removed.
“We attempted to find a compromise but failed as our community has further divided. In an attempt to find a resolution, we have upset parties on both sides of this issue and for that, we are truly sorry,” a post from the city’s Facebook page read, announcing the memorial’s removal. “The City of Tega Cay’s intent from the beginning of this project was to recognize our current and fallen police officers. Without their courage, strength, dedication, concern, and compassion, as mentioned in the police officer’s prayer inscribed on the monument, our City would be a much different place.”
“We appreciate you taking the time to provide us with your input,” the post concluded, “Regardless of our different viewpoints, our people are the greatest assets of our community and what truly make this City such a wonderful place to live the good life in Tega Cay.”
Before removing the monument altogether, officials were catching heat for accepting the gift to the Tega Cay Police Department – a fallen officer memorial. Some in the community were upset that the word “Lord” was found written on the stone three times.
Tuesday, city officials decided to cover up the word “Lord” after some neighbors raised concerns about religious messages on government property.
“I really didn’t think anything about it and was a little surprised, but we understand the concerns,” said Charlie Funderburk, Tega Cay’s City Manager, during an interview with WBTV Tuesday afternoon.
Funderburk said city leaders were taking the blame for trying to cover up parts of the faith-based message.
“We messed up. It didn’t have the effect that we hoped it would have,” Funderburk said.
He said the monument was altered only to get rid of the divisiveness and to appease everyone, no matter their beliefs. However, those who follow the Christian faith felt like it was a slap to the face.
“I think it’s a topic that both sides of the issue are very, very passionate about,” Funderburk said. “No doubt about it.”
Funderburk added that there was a possibility the stone would be removed because of all the controversy, but he wanted anyone in Tega Cay to know that it is a place of equal opportunity and no one should feel less than others.
Funderburk says no one who works for the city could have imagined the kind of backlash that came because the message that was on the stone was no different than the words found on other monuments honoring law enforcement officers across the nation.
“We care about everybody. Not just one over another, everyone is treated equally here.”
A group planned to host a prayer at the monument on Saturday in response to all the backlash. There is no word on whether the group still plans to hold the gathering.
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