Religion

Religious Mural Removed From Highway Wall

| by Jimmy King
A protester holds a sign in San Francisco, 2008A protester holds a sign in San Francisco, 2008

A religious theme park in Florida has reportedly been forced to remove the religious mural it had painted on government property. 

In November 2015, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter of complaint to the Holy Land Experience theme park for painting a Christian-themed mural on a freeway retaining wall, according to the organization's Feb. 25 press release.

The mural put up by the Holy Land Experience reportedly contained angels unraveling a scroll. The scroll represented mankind, suggesting that God created everyone -- an overtly religious concept. The Christian amusement park reportedly did not obtain a permit before painting the mural on government property.

“Holy Land’s goal is to convert people to its particular brand of Christianity," Andrew Seidel, FFRF Staff Attorney, wrote in the November 2015 letter. "It cannot annex and deface government property to further that goal."

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The FFRF added that since the theme park's display is on government property, it violates the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment of the Constitution. This clause states that government actions cannot favor one religion over another, or promote religion over non-religion or vice versa, according to the Legal Information Institute.

The Central Florida Freethought Community, the FFRF's local chapter, expressed support for the removal of the religious mural.

“We’re pleased that the creation mural has finally been removed from a public wall," David Williamson, the group's founder, said in the FFRF's press release. "It is unfortunate that it was up for nearly 10 months before it was addressed, but the wall of separation between church and interstate has been restored thanks to the work of our local members and supporters, as well as FFRF’s intervention."

“We welcome the decision of Holy Land to voluntarily abide by our country’s constitution and laws,” FFRF co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor added.

Separation of church and state has been a divisive issue in politics leading up to the presidential election, as Republican candidates have voiced their criticism of supporters of the doctrine.

“There are those who go around proclaiming separation of church and state," Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said on Feb. 1, according to the Washington Times. "The fact of the matter is- do they realize that our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, says we have certain unalienable rights given to us by our creator, AKA God."

Sources: FRFF, Legal Information InstituteThe Washington Times / Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Kevin Wisniewski/Rex Features via The Guardian

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