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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cross on Public Property ~ Dugger, Indiana Facing Legal Action

Stories like this both sadden and anger me.  It is another supposed violation of the separation of church and state.  It is stories like this that inspired me to start my First Amendment series, which currently is on hold.  This story is a great example of how far we as a country have strayed from the original meaning of the First Amendment. 

The article basically states that Americans United for the Separation of Church and State have sent a letter to Dugger, Indiana, population 915 as of 2011, threatening legal action and informing that the twenty-six foot tall cross located there in Dugger on public property is a violation of the Establishment Clause.  In case you're not familiar, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."  The cross was built by a private citizen at his own expense, and the town council approved the cross's current location.  The council does not believe they can afford, much less win, a lawsuit.  And because of that, there was much debate over what to do.  The council has now decided to sell the property so that the cross can remain in its current position.

I applaud them for not taking the cross down.  But they shouldn't have to sell the property to avoid a lawsuit.  No violation to the Constitution has been committed.  If this was a situation where the citizens of Dugger wanted the cross removed from public property, I would understand.  The town council acts as representatives of the citizens and should act accordingly.  From what I can understand, though, the protest has not come from the citizens.  Does that mean there are no citizens in Dugger who want the cross down? Not necessarily.

I've made no attempt at hiding the fact that I am a Christian.  And just in case you're wondering, I would not have a different opinion if the issue was an atheist sign.  For example, if a private citizen built a sign that was "anti-christian" or "anti-religion" or even representing a different religion for that matter, and the town council approved the sign being displayed on public property, and the citizens had no problem with the sign, I wouldn't object.  An atheist's rights are protected by the First Amendment just as much as the Christian's or other religious person's rights are.  If I was travelling through a town that had a sign which was contrary to my beliefs, I wouldn't even go out of my way to turn my head to prevent myself from looking at it.  The sign wouldn't threaten me or my beliefs.  It wouldn't change my view, just as a cross probably won't change the view of an atheist.  And the same goes for symbols of other religions such as Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, etc.  If I saw a large Buddha located on public property, I wouldn't accuse the town of "establishing Buddhism."  The town would merely be using the Buddha as a representation to their religious beliefs.  And they would have that right.

This whole false concept of the separation of church and state infuriates me.  My biggest concern is that we as a people have come too far, that there's no going back to the original meaning of the First Amendment.  And before I start ranting, I better end this post.  But let me end with this:

One person's rights cannot be granted by taking away another's.

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