Religion

Image Of Jesus On Cedar Rapids Fire Truck Leads To City Investigation

| by Will Hagle

Religious individuals have been known to spot images of Jesus Christ on various everyday objects like bread and napkins, and residents of Cedar Rapids, Iowa have spotted a similar depiction on the back of a fire truck. The only difference is that this image was deliberately put on the truck.

Like the images found on bread and napkins, however, it is unclear whether or not Jesus Christ is actually the figure displayed. The image consists of a shadow of a firefighter who stands, holding a staff. Beneath the image appear the words “the Lord is my shepherd,” a reference to Bible verse Psalm 23:1. 

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Although the Cedar Rapids Fire Department claims the image has appeared on the truck since it was purchased by the department in 1997, the city’s Civil Rights Commission recently received a “friendly complaint” about its religious connotation, The Blaze reports. This is the first complaint the department has received in the truck’s 17 years of operation in the Cedar Rapids area. 

The Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission is currently investigating whether the image violates any First Amendment rights. According to Civil Rights Commission Executive Director John-Paul Chaisson Cardenas, the complaint was interested in the use of taxpayer money funding the truck.

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“We have an image that may be considered Christian... and they were wondering if any government dollars had been used to put it on there,” Cardenas said, according to CBS 2.

If the truck is found in violation of any First Amendment rights, the city would pay to have the depiction of Christ removed. Another option would be to use private funding to add images honoring other faiths to the back of the truck.

Fire Department Chief Mark English explained that he would be happy with the second option.

“I think it shows that at least the fire department and the whole city of Cedar Rapids is open to all faiths. We don’t want to exclude anyone,” English said.