A Giant Cross in Dugger, Indiana Must Come Down (Fixed)

If you visited the town of Dugger, Indiana over the past two years, this is what you would have seen:

The cross in Dugger (Charlie Nye – The Indianapolis Star)

That’s a 26-foot-tall cross on public property.

Until recently, no one ever complained about it. But Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent the city a letter asking them to take it off the property and, as you might expect, people are going a bit crazy about that.

(I love the part in that video where the guy yells about how Christians are the minority in America.)

When word got around Tuesday that an Indianapolis Star reporter was coming to town to write about the situation, more than 40 people showed up at the cross for the occasion. They brought white tents and water bottles. One girl wore a shirt that said “Better saved than sorry.”

They held hands and formed a prayer circle around the cross. “We’re asking you, Father God, for a voice from heaven, Father, to know if this is a time to stand and fight, Father God,” said the first man to speak, Trevis Pinkston. “Father God, we need to know now, Father God.” His speech was met with a rousing “Amen.”

Dan Dyer, pastor of the nearby Whosoever Will Full Gospel Church, told The Star he was here because he felt it was a threat. “We also believe our republic was founded upon Christian foundations,” he said, asking why this was a problem, when the Ten Commandments are shown prominently at the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington.

“It ain’t hurting nobody,” said Charles Hay, the man who approached the Town Council in the first place. “If you’re not for it, don’t look at it.”

They complain because they don’t understand how the law works.

But at least City Council President Dwight Nielson does. He’s complying with AU’s request because the town “doesn’t have the cash to fight this in court… nor would it likely win.”

The easiest thing to do would be to sell the cross to a Church or just move it to private property, but that decision hasn’t been made yet.

You know, these stories are a lot less interesting to write about when the city just complies with the law… Where’s the fight?! I can’t tell you how wrong you are when you decide to do the right thing!

That’s alright. I could get used to it.

(via Religion Clause)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

    As usual the comments are full of gold. I love reading this one over and over the best.

    “it’s not like the cross is doing any harm.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FRDTPMBW7IBKWIU3763AI6FYOM Steve

    Spent some time arguing this earlier in the week on the Star’s site.  Lots of the usual red herrings about ‘offendedness’, at least one threat of harm to the complaintant accompanied by others calling them cowards for remaining anonymous.
    Lots of ‘Sell to cross to a church to thumb their noses at nonChristians’ and ‘Satan is taking over America.’ With a dash of ‘This is such a trivial issue’.
     
    A reasonable number of reasaonable people, thouhg, pointing out that this is against the law, which is the problem.
     
    More than I’d expect from an ‘In God We Trust’ license plate state.
     
    Oh, and one history teacher who checked my facebook page so he could revile me for being an atheist and having been ‘suckered’ into engaging with me.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/K22PAXIQWBRJ7F4SMPYFHRFJUY Doug Philips

    If I wrote these scenes in a screenplay they be cut for being too stereotypical, too generic for dopey hick christian, and too silly. Maybe that’s why I love this video so much. I especial LOVED when the sweet old codger is babbling on about all the end times stuff and the interviewer just keeps murmuring, “uh ha, uh ha, uh ha.”

  • earlytetrapod

    This place needs a statue of Charles Darwin to go along with the cross. I’m sure the Christians wouldn’t mind. After all, “If you’re not for it, don’t look at it.”.

  • Blacksheep

    What harm is the cross doing?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

    That thing is so ugly!!! I would have hated it even as a Christian. From the time I’ve spent in Indiana, they definitely do not understand what “aesthetically pleasing” means in the slightest.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1607022278 facebook-1607022278

     Yeah the “if you don’t like it, don’t look at it” argument always falls short whenever you put something else in it’s place. Like a big ass sign that reads “GLORY FOR ISLAM!!” xD

  • Amanda

     Violation of the Constitution, for starters.

  • Everyday Atheist

    I grew up near Dugger, and even know some of the people mentioned. The whole area is a classic example of “for good people to do bad things, that takes religion.” They are (by and large) decent people whose worldview is warped ny ignorance and indoctrination. Happy to see the town council poised to do the right thing.

  • Pyra

    I only ever drive through Indiana, but it seems that this sort of thing is pretty common.  It’s one small step on a very large path.

  • Geocatherder

    It’s clear that a whole lot of American people need to be truly introduced to the concept of separation of church and state and have it demonstrated to them that following the law really doesn’t hurt.  Sell the cross for a buck to somebody who will erect it on private property.  The cross stays up, the law is followed, everybody wins.  Why is that so %$#@&* hard???

  • Randomfactor

    I’m surprised nobody’s compared the cross to the one standing behind it with all the wires on it.   But hooray for the city doing the right thing, even if they’re mealy-mouthed about it.

  • Lee Miller

    I wish people would come along and put up statues of Krishna, Islamic slogans, Confucianism symbols, pentagrams . . . that would have been much more fun than just takng down the damn cross.  My god, people are so f-ing ignorant in this country.  How is that even possible?

  • TheAmazingAgnostic

    It really does not matter whether the cross is or is not doing any harm: that’s a red herring. 

    What matters is that the land is government property, and the cross violates the law.

    Honestly enough, I do not care if you erect crosses all over the nation, so long as they are on your personal property. 

  • Thegoodman

    “If you visited the town of Dugger, Indiana…” Being from Clay City, Indiana (close to Dugger) I can promise you there is no one to which this statement applies.

    I am ecstatic that I am no longer in that portion of the country. Small town Indiana is total loose butthole.

  • http://www.everydayintheparkwithgeorge.com/ Matt E

    It is an act of State endorsement of a religion which harms all people who are not a member of that religion by implicitly telling them they are not full members of the society

  • mikespeir

    Real Christians ARE in the minority.  That’s because anyone who doesn’t see things quite like I do must be a False Christian.  And the Best Christian is me, because I’m the only one who sees things with perfect clarity.

  • Kodie

    These are the same kind of people who complain about an atheist billboard on private property or atheist advertisements on a bus, and those things are only in their face a little while and not paid for by the government.

    I read a lot of the comments over there, there just doesn’t seem to be any way they get it through their head. They don’t understand “separation of church and state,” the establishment clause, they don’t fathom its intent and mangle it into whatever they want, they assume it’s not bothering anyone that lives in their town because whoever it was is no doubt afraid to come forward, and they think we’re offended over “nothing.” If it’s “nothing,” why is moving it somewhere else like the government telling them they can’t believe in Jesus anymore than when the cross wasn’t there before two years ago? No, they are hard-headed.

    A lot of them even say they don’t care what everyone believes, it doesn’t bother or concern them, and it’s everyone’s freedom of religion. They just don’t fucking get it.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

    See the responces from Matt E,  TheAmazingAgnostic and Amanda.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FRDTPMBW7IBKWIU3763AI6FYOM Steve

    My favorite comment is from an absolutely deranged person, apparently:
    Kim Evans · Kokomo High School
    BTW, NAMBLA is North American Man Boy Love Association. 35% of our Senators and congressmen belong to it. Their creed is when a boy reaches 12 years old, it’s his decision only if he wants to have sex with an adult male. Now, do you still support the sick homosexuals?Absolute gold.  What does that have to do with anything, you ask?  Hell if I know, but I guess we constitution-mongers  sure got told, eh?

  • Happy Cooper

    This is all over Indiana. I moved here with my family for work at IU, and then we bought a house in Ellettsville.  This is the town seal:

    http://ellettsville.in.us/bullet04.htm
     

  • Blacksheep

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…”

    No law has been made, (That I know of, I think it’s just a town putting a cross up) and this is certainly free exercise of religion – maybe you meant to say,  “violation of the court’s interpretation of the constitution.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FRDTPMBW7IBKWIU3763AI6FYOM Steve

    “Court’s interpretation of the Constitution”= Constitution.

    Sorry, but that’s how it works. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FRDTPMBW7IBKWIU3763AI6FYOM Steve

    How can you say that?  There’s someone on that comments board who claims to be the person who decides who is or isn’t Christian. 
    They have to be, as I understand it, either Crazy, Lying, or telling the Absolute Truth, and all but the last option is theologically impossible, according to C.S. Lewis.
    Therefore you must be some commie nazi liberal.
    QED

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FRDTPMBW7IBKWIU3763AI6FYOM Steve

    Also, when you actually do turn away and not look at it, they scream “How dare you not look at it!  Have you no respect?” and pass ordinances forcing everyone to look.

  • Kodie

    Didn’t they have some kind of vote-like exhibition whether to put the cross right where it is? If the town council decides unanimously or one single person (that would be, uh, tyranny, a little bit actually) granted permission to post the cross on public land, that’s establishment. That’s imposing a governmental establishment of a religion or preferred religious belief. The members of the governing body are still free to practice their religious beliefs but the government business is to stay neutral. Not atheist, neutral, no cross, no star of david, no crescent moon, no “there is no god”, no buddha, no establishment whatsoever with regard to anyone’s religion or promoting a lack of one.

    When the government prefers Christian symbols over the rest of them, the rest of us are not plainly free to believe what we wish. Christians just don’t get it because the government is not disagreeing with their beliefs, but taking the cross out of public property establishes no religion, and doesn’t take away any of your rights to believe whatever you like. The very idea that whoever reported this to FFRF hasn’t come forward indicates a lack of freedom to believe whatever he or she wants. Clearly this is because the very government of the town where they live has established a single religion, letting dissenters know their kind isn’t really welcome, that this isn’t their America. That’s what the harm is. But I predict you will be too dense to understand that your “freedom of religion” established on government property takes freedom of religion away from someone who disagrees with it.

  • mikespeir

    You poor, benighted thing.  I’d explain, but I doubt you’d understand.  Sophisticated theology and all.  ;-)

  • Alex

    Uh-huh. When a legally purchased atheist billboard goes up on an advertiser’s post, it offends sensibilities. When a bunch of Christians put an explicitly religious symbol (I know, some misinformed judge declared cross to be a “non-religious” symbol, but “Jesus saves?” Come on.) on public land, it “ain’t hurtin’ nobody” and “don’t look at it.” Gotcha.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1078695333 David Kopp

    I think the sarcasm in mikespeir’s post went right over your head there, bucko…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FRDTPMBW7IBKWIU3763AI6FYOM Steve

    Perhaps you’re right, given the utter seriousness of my reply.  I must learn to take these serious theological discussions less to heart.
    I mean, it’s only the single most important fact in the universe.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FRDTPMBW7IBKWIU3763AI6FYOM Steve

    No, we don’t.
    But we are really good at deep frying things that have never been deep-fried before.
    Which might be a solution, now that I think of it…

  • jdm8

     The 14th amendment means that state and local governments can’t make laws or ordinances that support religious establishment.

  • Edmond

    Jesus saves electricity

  • Glasofruix

    I don’t get all that fuss around a torture device. You might think that if skyfairy, who has been nailed to it, would’nt want to see that stuff again. I wonder how’d they react if somebody puts an iron maiden or an ass spreder torture pyramind on his lawn…

  • viaten

    Guy in video: “We today are a minority in America”.  In a sense he might be right.  Or at least I hope he’s right if he’s referring to people like himself.  It seems he could more accurately say, “Christians like us are a minority in America today.”

  • Glasofruix

    Then you can fart and say “don’t smell it”

  • RobMcCune

    I  see, so long as it isn’t a law it’s perfectly ok for those who implement the law to establish a religion. Do you take such a strict interpretation with your other constitutional rights as well?

  • http://conuly.dreamwidth.org/ Conuly

     “maybe you meant to say,  “violation of the court’s interpretation of the constitution.””

    Court interpretation is kinda how our legal system works. Did you fail civics or something?

  • mikespeir

     I just thought you were being sarcastic back, so I didn’t do any better.  :-)

  • Don F

    I’ve an easy fix: Hang an S&H Green Stamps sign under it and call it a day . . . .

  • Tim Lewellyn

    Actually the courts interpretation is the only one that matters.

  • Guest

    Take it down and put it up on private property. Simply as that. In fact every piece of private property in town should have a giant cross that says “Jesus Saves”. Regardless of what people say, religion is forever. God is truth. God is love. Think about the children, think about the morality that would be lost without Gods word. I’m sorry but goodness exist because God is real. Father, forgive them; for they not know what they do.

  • Frankeinstein

    Real christians must stone people that works on Sunday like the bible says !
    Real christians must never cut their hair or shave  like the bible says ! 
    Real christians must marry their girl to their rapist  like the bible says !
    Real christians must never wear cloth from 2 different cloth
     like the bible says ! 
    Real christians must believe that the world is flat
     like the bible says ! So yes real christians are in minority !

  • Darsb1

    Poe’s Law: It is impossible to create a satire so extreme that no one will take it seriously.

  • Jackie

    We are not ” too dense”, ” can’t get it through our heads” people. We have had civics, we know the law, We will most likely sell the surrounding land to the church or move it to one of the MANY of the private yards that have highway frontage, that have offered. My views are not warped by ignorance or indoctrination. I understand separation of church and state and it’s intent. Oh my gosh! We even know who Darwin is!

    We are a small town with a 3 person board who made a mistake. It will be fixed. In the mean time I want you to know that the people of Dugger Indiana “fucking get it” as you so politely implied. We also welcome you to drive thru town any day, anytime to be offended by the cross which will still be on display on the highway for all to see. We hope it ruins your day! Best Wishes!

  • ImRike

     Poor Jackie! You’re still too dense to get it! Nobody is offended by the cross. What offends is when the government endorses a religion by putting up the religion’s symbol on government property. We would be just as offended if the government put up a sign saying “There is no god” on government property and we would work to get that sign taken down as well. If we ever come through your town, we will gladly admire all the crosses on display along the highway as long as they are not sitting on government property – and we will even be polite enough not to leave a note behind saying “I wonder why people spend money on silly displays like that rather than using their resources  for a good cause…”

  • Kodie

    Did you read all the replies to the article in the Star? Everyone there fighting for the cross to stay was so fucking ignorant. Can’t really fight that accusation. Dugger has to move the cross off government property. You (anyone) are still in fair territory for your religious freedom if you put it on your own (or church) property. Thank YOU for admitting your council made a mistake, although I think they were too dense to realize it was against the law – so much for your civics, people governing you “forgot” or either didn’t give a rip, like some others in this thread and the respondents to the Star article, think you can pick and choose the laws you follow and ones you can ignore or work out a creative loophole, just like the bible.

    Also noted, the Dugger, IN Christians hope my day is ruined. Thanks, that’s so… neighborly of y’all. It’s just a letter t when you put it on a church.

  • Jackie

    I won’t continue a bashing argument with you. As I said, a mistake was made and it will be corrected. I thought I made it clear that I understand the reason behind your request. Oh, excuse me, demand. I find it sad you can’t make yourself clear without name calling. Many on here however are offended by the symbol of the cross. Read the comments yourself. They hide behind your argument. As far as ” our resources” this was privately built by a few people by hand and materials donated for the most part. We have helped many people thru many difficulties, because we are a small town and we pull together. You shouldn’t judge what you have not taken the time to learn. Have a great day!

  • Jackie

    Again, why the name calling? Can’t you make an intelligent argument without it? No one chose to ignore the law. I don’t get the Star, so no I didn’t read those comments. I will look it up though. The men on the current board are not the ones who made this decision. We did not have a voting process. I would like to say that I personally hope your day is ruined. I never meant to decide for someone else. Do come and visit sometime. We would be glad to be ” neighborly” to you! Have a great day.

  • Queenofcass

    They did they said well do we need to take all the powerlines down on the sides of the county road bc they are shaped like a cross!

  • amycas

     If it’s any consolation, I also thought you were being sarcastic right back.

  • amycas

     Well, at least we can agree on your first sentence there. :-)

  • amycas

    Where did Kodie or ImRike name-call? Kodie made one claim that the commenters defending the cross were ignorant. That’s not name-calling, it’s an accurate description of those who don’t understand how this is a violation of separation of church and state. ImRike, also, did not calling anyone any names. Can you point to where they did?

    “No one chose to ignore the law.”–Are you trying to say that the cross magically appeared one day? In an earlier post you said the cross was built and installed by hand using donated materials. Obviously, whoever put up the cross either didn’t know the law (thus, effectively ignored it) or knew the law and chose to ignore it.

  • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

    Yes, the morality that says it’s okay to stone children who curse their parents and force women to marry their rapists. Seriously, you don’t want to go down this road with morality; it’s not an argument you can win.

  • Kodie

    You still don’t get the argument, that’s why. It’s a religious symbol on public land. It’s offensive because it breaks the law being there. It’s not offensive if you put it on your church where it belongs. The government issupposed to be neutral for YOUR religious freedom as well as mine.  And you’ve got at least one person in town, someone who is actually your neighbor who certainly must be offended that Christianity equals petty, ignorant, and hostile. Because that cross stood on government property, he or she had no place to go to file his or her grievance of its violation of the 1st amendment but outside of Dugger. That is, if you wonder what some nosy people from Washington are doing there.

    The government doesn’t tell you to be a Muslim or a Wiccan or a Buddhist, and you ought to like it that way, as anyone can decide for themselves to be a Christian and not have it imposed or strongly suggested by their governing body. I thought you like “free will” to decide for yourself, and that’s why it’s so meaningful to you, I would think you all would be against your government telling you that you should. That’s why the cross has to be moved, not because people are offended just to look at it. I know if you’re a Christian, you just like to think our skin is melting off…. see, you think it works like vampire movies. Plus, you’re really hostile for a model Christian. Pride, arrogance, failing to love thy neighbor, failing to turn the other cheek. You HOPE that my day is ruined. Just to look at the letter t and our freedom being in check? No, that’s a great day in America, Jackie. You’re the one who’s bitter. It’s like hanging a cross up in town makes you think you’re forgiven all your trespasses, but you’re acting like a right douche. <– that's name-calling.

  • Thegoodman

     Made up things that people believe in are hardly the most important “facts” in the universe.

    The “truth” of the Christian god is no more or less important than the “truth” of Scientology or leprechauns. They are all silly and irrelevant, and making fun of them as such is a very legitimate discourse.

  • Jackie

    Once again yes I get the argument . Never said I didn’t or I disagreed with it. You assumed that. You know what they say about assuming? lol! Never said I was a model christain either. No ones perfect , so I will try and work on that perceived hostility you mention. Thought you had a professional adult comment going there, but alas, you went and proved my point! Thanks a bunch ! Kisses!

  • Jackie

    Calling someone dense ie: stupid, is name calling. You do understand not to call your children that don’t you? Gee I hope so with all your education! If your reading skills are up to par you will see both authors use the word in a detrimental manner. (that means in a mean way) or maybe your just…what was that non offensive word again…oh yeah DENSE. (remember that means stupid). Again I will repeat for those that are…what’s that word again… Oh yeah DENSE..(remember that means stupid) I get it, we get it, it will be fixed as we are not purposely unlawful people. When it was done the board who approved it didn’t realize their mistake. Not knowing something does not mean you know it and are ignoring it. I would love you to please tell me the reference material you have found that not knowing something means you are ignoring it. It’s your statement. Please clarify or were you just being…what’s that word again…oh yeah DENSE,(that means stupid)? I’m sure your not offended ? Have a great day!

  • Tria MacLeod

    OMG, I am trying so desperately to not be a Grammar Nazi right now.   But the glaring mistakes of the native language,  IT BURNS!!!1!1!

  • Nbilheimer

    Like they would know who Darwin is?

  • Meg
  • http://profile.yahoo.com/WYK5MKNVEP3GKDPHQDPKWR5F6U Tony Smith

    This is only an issue because Christians are the ONLY group that insists on erecting such displays. The ONLY thing that even comes close is when Jews display a Menorah  around December. And that is primarily in response to the Christians insisting on displaying Nativity scenes.

    No other group displays such symbols so blatantly. No other organization, religious or otherwise, places icons or quotations on their lawns or cars as much as Christians do. Such displays, being on private property, are perfectly legal (assuming they don’t violate some other law), but they are still annoying. The last thing non-Christians want to see is such displays where they are NOT legal.

  • Forgiven

    It’s difficult not to promote the God who died on the cross to save the world. The God who changes individual lives setting them free from having to harbor bitterness and hate toward others no matter their beliefs.  We as followers of Christ are called to share the Gospel message that’s why we have signs and talk about our faith in public .  Unfortunately, more often than than not we are represented by “fans” of God and not followers.   America is not a good representation of a “Christian”.  American Christians tend to harbor animosity toward those who won’t listen or do as the Bible teaches when in fact we are sometimes the greatest offenders.  They forget the very name of Jesus will offend,  He said it would,  so why we are surprised I’ll never know.  The only thing I can do is tell people what God has done in my life through Jesus Christ how He has changed and continues to change me.   God doesn’t hate people, only the sin they commit by violating His standards.  That’s why He died for it and that’s why He chose to save the world on the cross.  Because of this little cross in Dugger people are hearing the Gospel message and maybe for the first time… and hopefuly the true Gospel message that it’s not about obeying the ten commandments outwardly but applying them to your life and living them in your heart.   Hatred is murder, lust is adultery, putting money and things ahead of God is idolatry, no one can live up to God’s standards  without the saving Grace of Christ.  Now that people have heard and seen the name it’s up to  them to decide what to do about it.  Search yourselves and “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”.  

  • Blah

    My only problem with these fights is they come from Washington based groups with axes to grind, not the local community. If someone in the community had a problem with it it’d be different. I think this kind of this is statute abuse. Jefferson was not referring to this in terms of church and state. This is the speech of the community not of the government…..I like the land sale approach though. 

  • Jlongtongue

     so i guess everybody has to see you way. it’s because of the atheist our country is going down hill. because they don’t believe in something everybody else has too..a cross is not hurting anybody. if it offends you then leave this country and go to iran or iraq and tell them you don’t believe in their god.


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