Crosses were okay, then they weren't ... so now we wait

Wednesday, February 19, 2014
 | 
Charlie Butts (OneNewsNow.com)

Residents of Evansville, Indiana, will have to wait a while to learn whether it's legal to display crosses on city property.

Evansville officials had approved the display requested by Westside Christian Church, but two local residents filed suit, arguing that 31 six-foot-tall crosses along a four-block section of the riverfront area would appear to endorse religion. Judge Sarah Evans Barker agreed and prohibited the display.

Alliance Defending Freedom is representing West Side Christian Church. ADF senior counsel Bryan Beauman explains that the church went through the same process as any other group to place the crosses.

Alliance Defending Freedom"... The city gave the church permission to display the crosses just as it had other groups that had displayed non-religious items," Beauman tells OneNewsNow, "and these plaintiffs filed suit, represented by the ACLU of Indiana. At the trial court level, the judge agreed with the ACLU and held that these crosses could not be displayed."

On Tuesday, ADF urged the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn Judge Barker's ruling.

"I think [the arguments] went very well," says Beauman. "The court was very attentive and engaging and recognizes the fact that you can't charge a city official to exercise censorship and eradicate speech from the public square just because it's religious in nature."

According to The Associated Press, Gavin Rose, an attorney for the ACLU of Indiana, said the church had no right to appeal since the ruling was against the city, and the city didn't appeal. One of the appellate judges suggested that that seemed an odd position to take for an organization that defends the First Amendment.

The court has no timetable for release of a decision.

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