A lawsuit filed by the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center has pressured Roselle Park (New Jersey) Mayor Carl Hokanson to temporarily remove a display featuring a soldier kneeling in front of a Christian cross from the local library.
He put the display up back in July. Even though the AHA sent a warning latter about the legal problems with this government promotion of Christianity, the city council retroactively approved the decision anyway. That’s why the AHA filed a lawsuit against the mayor and city this past Friday.
Without even waiting for a judgment, though, Hokanson is removing the display for now. Perhaps he knows in his heart that the AHA called his bluff.
He told the website TAP into Roselle Park why he was taking it down while also blaming the council member, Charlene Storey, who is the plaintiff in this case:
When I donated the “Kneeling Soldier” it was with the utmost respect for ALL VETERANS!! To say that I was singling out a select group was far from the truth. And after the council meeting on August 18, it was clear to me that nearly all of the residents in attendance felt the same way. While there were a few who spoke against it, the majority supported it. Consequently, I had every hope at that time; councilwoman Storey would rescind her law suit.
It is incomprehensible to me that while we struggle to keep our community affordable, that any member of this council would put their own personal needs and agenda above the people we have been elected to serve. I wish to add that councilwoman Storey was approached after the August meeting in an attempt to mediate these differences but she refused.
I strongly believe, like many of you, that this tribute to our veterans should remain as is. However, I will temporarily remove the “Kneeling Soldier” while the Storey lawsuit plays out in court.”
Storey was protecting the city from breaking the law by speaking out against the display; if the mayor wants to violate the Constitution, the responsibility for any lawsuit fines falls entirely on him, not the whistleblower. How dare he blame her?
His excuse that the display was for “ALL VETERANS” is also bullshit. All veterans don’t bow down to the Christian God.
He may think taking down the display is a temporary move, but the lawsuit will make it permanent. The sooner he accepts that and does the right thing, the better it’ll be for the city.
He doesn’t appear to have that courage, though.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)