Group Wants Military Tribute Statue Featuring Cross To Be Removed

| by Dominic Kelly

An organization is fighting for the removal of a statue featuring a Christian cross carving that’s located in Indiana’s Whitewater Memorial State Park, and some people are not happy about it.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has penned a letter to Cameron Clark, director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources on behalf of a complainant who felt that a Christian cross should not be placed on state property.

“The religious significance of the Latin cross is unambiguous and indisputable,” wrote Rebecca Market, senior staff attorney at the FFRF. “An overwhelming majority of federal courts agree that the Latin cross universally represents the Christian religion, and only the Christian religion.”

“The inherent religious significance of the Latin cross is undeniable and is not disguisable,” continued Market. “No secular purpose, no matter how sincere, will detract from the overall message that the Latin cross stands for Christianity and the overall display promotes Christianity. The display of this patently religious symbol in a city park would confer government endorsement of Christianity, a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause.”

While some say the FFRF’s letter presents a solid argument, local veterans say they do not feel that the cross needs to be removed since it is a carving on a statue dedicated to military veterans.

“We turned in a petition with 1,651 signatures in support of the carving on Aug. 22,” said veteran Bob Napier. “The outpouring online is even greater, with over 2,000 supporters. We're not collecting any more signatures. The DNR said that was more than adequate for a small community. They're telling us they'll make a decision shortly, but we don't know when.”

“We don't want to move it somewhere else, either,” continued Napier. “We want it to be at the park that is dedicated to veterans. Vets fought for freedom, but they keep taking our freedoms away from us.”

The letter makes clear, however, that the organization does not feel the statue and its Christian carving has any place in a public state park.

"We ask you to replace the statue’s cross with a secular symbol, remove the cross, or deny the statue’s placement in Whitewater Memorial Park in order to honor all veterans,” wrote Market in the letter. “We would also appreciate a prompt response from you, in writing, informing us of the action the DNR takes on this matter.”

Take a look at the full letter here.

Sources: Richmond Palladium-Item, Freedom From Religion Foundation