Two weeks ago, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the city held an event called “Paint the Plows.” It’s a cute idea. They get representatives from local schools (and youth groups) to paint the snow plows the city will use when the snow hits.
The problem is that two of the participating schools were Christian and painted religious messages on the plows… which could be a problem when the city begins driving them this winter:
Students at Lutheran High School of Sioux Falls spent time and effort designing the plow blade they submitted for the city’s Paint the Plows event, Principal Derek Bult said. Painted red and adorned with the phrase “Jesus Christ” in white, the religious symbolism was hard to miss.
[Siouxland Freethinkers board member Eric] Novotny contacted the city attorney’s office after seeing Lutheran High School’s “Jesus Christ” plow blade, and another painted with the phrase: “Happy birthday Jesus.” The latter was submitted by elementary and middle school-aged students at Sioux Falls Lutheran School.
The atheist group didn’t even threaten a lawsuit — but the city saw the writing on the wall and contacted both religious schools to let them know they couldn’t use the plows as is, but the students could repaint them if they wanted to. Neither school took the city up on its offer. Their loss.
There are the usual cries of oppression, and free speech, and “Think of the children!” in comment threads about this story… but there’s an easy experiment anyone can perform to see how seriously we should take them:
Some residents might be upset about a protest of Christian-themed art on city snow plows, but all they need to do is consider a role reversal, Amanda Novotny said.
“It would have no business on a plow, I would never do it, but if I painted a plow that said ‘There is no god,’ I think people would be very, very upset about that,” she said.
No kidding. Though, in the middle of a snowstorm, that message might actually unite everybody…
(via Religion Clause. Image via Lutheran High School of Sioux Falls)