Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, is under pressure to remove the words "First Baptist Church" from its enormous water tank, but is refusing to do so, for now (video below).
The Broken Arrow city council met behind closed doors for about 30 minutes on March 15 to discuss the 1 million gallon elevated water tank, which sits on the property of the First Baptist Church, notes KOKI.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation wrote a letter to the city in January calling for the removal of the church's name, based on the Oklahoma Constitution that says: “Public money or property shall not be used to support any church, sect or religion."
"The identification of the church was agreed to by the city in exchange for the dedication of the land where the water tower is located as well as all the necessary easements to serve it," Broken Arrow City Attorney Beth Anne Wilkening told KOKI.
"I have been advised by utilities department employees that it could cost as much as $600,000 to paint the exterior of the tank," Wilkening added.
Rev. Nick Garland of the First Baptist Church told the Broken Arrow Ledger before the city council meeting: "They wanted a high place for the gravitational advantages, and we’re on the highest hilltop on this end of town.”
“I don’t want it to appear that the church is aggravated with the city or vice versa," Garland added. "This is from outside."
“We don’t have a beef with the city. The city’s been great to us. They’ve been very gracious to keep us in the loop.”
Andrew Seidel of the FFRF wrote in a letter to the city, "At some point, that name is going to have to come off the water tower," reports KTUL.
"The water tower is in fact, government owned, and on government land," Seidel added. "And as such, it can't be advertising for any religion."
"The Supreme Court has spoken very clearly on this, and it has said the government can't promote one religion or church over another, or religion over non religion."