More than 20 years ago, a war memorial went up outside the Boone County courthouse in Missouri.
It honored veterans of Operation Desert Storm… and had a Jesus Fish at the bottom of it:
It wasn’t until this year that Americans United For Separation of Church and State found out about it; they sent a letter to county officials in May. That ichthus symbol is no longer visible on the monument because those officials, knowing they would lose a lawsuit on this issue, decided to cover it up:
[County Counselor C.J.] Dykhouse said a decision was made to “do the least harm” by reconfiguring the memorial to cover the ichthus “but leave the secular memorial honoring our veterans.” He said the Washington organization [AU] was “satisfied with that solution.”
Dykhouse said the decision to cover the symbol was “a very reasonable course of action” and “removed the litigation risk associated with the installation of a religious symbol.”
Peter Scavone, who helped put the monument up in the first place, was unhappy with the decision to say the least:
“It was allowed to be placed in 1991. I don’t think the church and state” separation “laws have changed in 20 years,” said [Scavone]…
“The county commission’s role is to worry about culverts and gravel roads, not church-and-state issues,” Scavone said Monday morning in a telephone interview.
He said the commission was responding to undocumented complaints, “which is typical cover for a one-party ruled banana republic like the commission.”
There’s a difference, of course, between the Jesus Fish being “allowed” and it going unnoticed. It wasn’t legal then, but no one called the county out on it until just recently. It’s not too late to correct the mistake.
(Image via Waymarking. Thanks to Brian for the link)