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A Wisconsin group of atheists, agnostics and free-thinkers is calling on an Illinois town to remove the image of a cross in a beautiful mural.
The mural is painted on an overpass near Effingham High School and includes an image of the American flag alongside that of a cross. The painting was inspired by a large cross dedicated in Effingham soon after the 9/11 Muslim terrorist attacks.
Todd Starnes brought national attention to the case during a recent edition of The Todd Starnes Radio Show.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) wrote a letter to Effingham city leaders asking them to erase the cross.
“A mural that depicts nothing except a Latin cross alongside the American flag sends a clear message: that patriotism and religiosity are interrelated,” the FFRF wrote in a letter to Mayor Mike Schutzbach.
Responding to this on The Todd Starnes Show, First Liberty Institute attorney Roger Byron said the complaint was light on the law.
“In fact, it used a single quote allegedly from a court of appeals case at the 7th Circuit to justify the argument against the cross and the mural,” said Byron. “However, that quote did not appear in that case.”
“This is a beautiful mural,” said Starnes, looking at pictures of the mural. “How is First Liberty Institute getting involved in this situation?”
“We’re investigating the matter and determining how best we can be of help there in Effingham,” answered Byron. “It’s worth pointing out that a lot of things have changed in the law over the last 30 years.”
For example, Byron said at least two appellate courts have upheld a cross as a part of a lawful, official government seal.
“The Supreme Court of the United States has upheld a 10 Commandments monument that stands on the grounds of the Texas capital building,” Byron continued. “The Supreme Court has upheld sectarian religious prayer as lawful to open city council meetings.”
Regardless of when the cross was created in Effingham, Byron said people that live in Effingham see the cross as a symbol of the town, of unity, and of patriotism.
“If that’s the case with a memorial, then certainly a memorial depicting that symbol carries the same message.”