Yet another town is finding itself in a bind after using public land to display an overtly Christian symbol, this time a 26 foot tall cross that says “Jesus saves” on public property near the sign welcoming people to Dugger, Indiana. Americans United is threatening a suit and the city council seems to want to back down:
On Monday night, the Town Council informed the people of Dugger that something had to be done about the cross because somebody had issued a formal complaint. It wasn’t so much what was on the cross as what it was on — public property.
Two years ago, with the blessing of the Town Council, the cross was erected on the piece of land owned by the town, just a few feet from the Welcome to Duggar sign…
The group said it was also concerned that the cross was so close to the sign for Union High, which “would only strengthen the affiliation between the Town and Christianity.” The group also took issue with an apparent plan for the town to pay for the electricity to keep the cross lit at night.
All this amounts to what is no less grave than a violation of the United States Constitution — the Establishment Clause, to be exact. The letter’s writers quoted founding father James Madison to make their point.
The town of Dugger doesn’t have the cash to fight this in court, said Council President Dwight Nielson. Nor would it likely win.
Nielson plans to comply with the letter, though exactly how is unclear at the moment.
The solution is simple: Put the cross on private property, where it belongs. There are undoubtedly many churches in Dugger and that is where such a sign belongs. But of course, the locals are all fired up for a fight and making the usual stupid and hypocritical arguments:
When word got around Tuesday that an Indianapolis Star reporter was coming to town to write about the situation, more than 40 people showed up at the cross for the occasion. They brought white tents and water bottles. One girl wore a shirt that said “Better saved than sorry.”
They held hands and formed a prayer circle around the cross. “We’re asking you, Father God, for a voice from heaven, Father, to know if this is a time to stand and fight, Father God,” said the first man to speak, Trevis Pinkston. “Father God, we need to know now, Father God.” His speech was met with a rousing “Amen.”
Dan Dyer, pastor of the nearby Whosoever Will Full Gospel Church, told The Star he was here because he felt it was a threat. “We also believe our republic was founded upon Christian foundations,” he said, asking why this was a problem, when the Ten Commandments are shown prominently at the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington.
Because the Ten Commandments is shown along with lots of other ancient legal sources; the frieze on which it appears includes a number of religious and secular lawgivers. Thus there is no endorsement, as there is here.
That article mentioned the possible constitutional issues. It also quoted Bill Pirtle, who was Town Council president back in 2010 and a supporter of putting the cross on public property.
“As I understand it,” Pirtle said in the article, “the town of Dugger owns the property — and it’s just like putting it in our yard.”
Uh, no. It’s not. Not even close. Is he really so clueless as to not grasp the difference between public and private property?
“It ain’t hurting nobody,” said Charles Hay, the man who approached the Town Council in the first place. “If you’re not for it, don’t look at it.”
Right. And if they decided to put up a star and crescent with the message “Allah saves” on it, I’m sure you’d say the same thing, right? Right? Yeah, I didn’t think so.