Anthony Farina was convicted of first-degree murder for the 1992 robbery of a fast-food restaurant that left one employee dead. During the sentencing phase of his trial, Farina called a minister to testify about his reformed character and embrace of Christianity in prison. On cross-examination, the prosecutor grilled the minister about Christian theology, including the Book of Romans, which addresses “submission to authority.” In his closing argument, the prosecutor added that those who “rebel against the authority…will bring judgment on themselves.”
For decades, the City of Lakeland has opened its Commission meetings with prayers delivered by invited clergy. And for twenty-five years, these speakers were selected from a list containing clergy from exclusively Christian denominations; the invited Christian clergy typically delivered Christian prayers. After the plaintiffs complained in March 2010, the City expanded its list of invited clergy to include other denominations.
Late in 2006, the Dixie County Commission allowed a local resident to install a five-foot, six-ton granite Ten Commandments monument on the steps of the county courthouse. The monument -- which has the phrase “LOVE GOD AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS” chiseled into its base -- is the only object on the courthouse steps and is visible from the street.