Stratton, Ohio’s Mayor, John Abdalla, is ending his struggle with Freedom From Religion Foundation lawyers by reversing his initial decision not to remove several historic crosses from the village’s municipal center this week, reports The Herald Star.
The mayor says he hates the decision, but thinks it’s in everyone’s best interest to avoid the prolonged court battle that would have resulted if he’d decided to keep the crosses where they’ve stood for decades, reports The Blaze.
Is there any effective way to respond to the incessant challenges of the atheists? The people of Stratton, Ohio have an idea that might work in other cities.
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The American Atheists have once again filed suit to force the removal of the Ground Zero cross in displays at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. Rebecca Hamilton, my neighbor on Patheos’ Catholic Portal, has the story.
Rebecca talks about the tiresome attempts by militant unbelievers to silence people of faith, and about her own experience as a legislator. She compares attempts by atheists to scrub religion from the 9/11 Memorial to the Muslim extremists’ destruction of ancient Buddha statues:
As for atheists who died in this tragedy, and atheists who helped in the rescue and clean-up, we should list their names and give them the respect they deserve. But there is no reason to erect a memorial to nothing.
More to the point, the ground zero cross is a historic artifact. It is part of the actual history of 9/11. Are we to re-write history and edit out those portions which might accidentally pertain to Christianity? Is that the new interpretation of the First Amendment?
Most people were horrified when Muslim extremists blew up ancient statues of Buddha a few years ago. The ground zero cross is just as much an artifact of history —albeit, more recent history — as those buddha statues were.
Atheism has become a dogmatic unfaith of sorts. It insults those who disagree and seeks by all means available to silence opposition. There is a tyrannical underpinning to the overbearing insistence that no one anywhere can include artifacts which might have linkage to established Christianity in public displays….”
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Now back to the village of Stratton.
For decades, the village of Stratton, Ohio took pride in the crosses which stood on the municipal building. However, the Freedom From Religion Foundation–the same group that threatened the city of Steubenville, bullying it into removing the cross from their logo–objected to the presence of the crosses, and began a letter-writing campaign demanding that they be removed. The Herald-Star explains:
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a church-state separatist organization, first wrote letters to local leaders last year telling them that a lawsuit would result if the crosses remained on government property, The Herald-Star reported.
Mayor John Abdalla at first refused to remove them, but after speaking with the village solicitor, he complied. That said, the mayor isn’t happy about his inevitable decision.
“I don’t like it — not one bit. Worse, I can’t find out who is [behind this],” he told The Herald-Star. “This is very upsetting. Those crosses have been there for years. The [Freedom From Religion Foundation] even sent pictures of the crosses.”
But while local leaders are frustrated by the decision to take the Christian symbols down, the crosses could end up more visible than ever once they are placed in their new locations.
Local television news station WTOV-TV reports that the crosses may soon be given to local land owners, which will likely make them more prominently displayed than ever on private property in the village. One cross is going to the Empire United Methodist Church. Wherever you drive in town–along Main Street, on country roads–there will be a cross to remind you of the city’s heritage, and of the Redeemer.
“That result will be that [the crosses] will be on display actually more visible to the public than they used to be,” said village solicitor Frank Bruzzese.
Mayor Abdalla believes a local individual or group may have brought the crosses to the attention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, sparking the national activist organization’s interest in the issue.
For now, one of the original crosses remains atop the town’s water tower. The cold winter weather has made it impossible to remove that cross; but the mayor promises that it will come down, once the Spring weather arrives.
Mr. Abdalla says what frustrates him most is the fact that he has no idea which of his villagers contacted the atheists to complain in the first place.
However, even though it sounds like the atheists won, the fact is, they lost because their legal complaint was that the Christian symbols had a prominent place on municipal land.
According to WTOV Channel 9 News, the crosses are about to find new homes on private farmland which, due to their physical location in town, will make the crosses even more visible than they ever were before!
Thus, the atheists’ threats against Stratton’s leaders have actually backfired!
Now, there’s nothing the atheists’ legal counsel can do to force private citizens to remove the crosses from public view given their placement is on private, not public, property…
- See more at: http://www.libertynews.com/2014/01/conservative-ohio-mayor-removes-historic-crosses-from-public-land-after-atheists-threaten-to-sue-but-youll-never-guess-what-he-did-with-the-crosses-thats-sure-to-make-the-atheists/#sthash.4Q7uQ4Yp.dpuf