Religion

Freedom From Religion Foundation Asks Minnesota City To Take Down Religious Symbol

| by Nicholas Roberts
The Cross and Star Landmark In Crescent, MinnesotaThe Cross and Star Landmark In Crescent, Minnesota

The city of La Crescent, Minnesota, is embroiled in a controversy over a well-known religious symbol which critics say violates the separation of church and state.

The controversy centers on what is known as the La Crescent cross and star landmark, News 8000 reports. The Freedom From Religion Foundation has asked the city to remove the landmark, saying it is a religious symbol on public property.

Specifically, FFRF staff attorney Rebecca Markert said the city alternates displaying the star at Christmastime and the cross during Easter, which suggests a religious purpose.

"They are celebrating the religious aspects of the holidays which the government is not allowed to do," Markert told News 8000.

La Crescent resident Gwynne Mishler said she supports keeping the landmark as it is.

“Separation of church and state is the freedom of religion, that means citizens of the country can worship or not worship anyone or anything they choose,” Mishler said. “'Freedom from religion' is not what our Constitution says; everyone is free to choose what they would like to worship or not worship, so I think that is an important distinction."

Other residents agreed with Mishler.

"It's public property and it's the city's landmark," Mary Ludwig, a landmark supporter, told ABC News 19. "You can't just because of a few people take away the rights that we as Americans have."

FFRF member Hank Zumach said the hillside where the landmark has stood for decades was an inappropriate area to display a religious symbol.

"The freedom from religion is more important and more basic than the freedom of religion," he said.

FFRF has not filed a lawsuit against La Crescent and wishes to resolve the issue out of court.

City officials said they want to resolve the issue quickly, ABC News 19 reports. The decision to light up the star for the 2015 holiday season has not yet been made.

Sources: News 8000, ABC News 19 / Photo credit: News 8000