At Veterans Memorial Park in Belle Plaine, Minnesota, there used to be a monument featuring a kneeling soldier in front of a Christian cross, a display that’s gone up (and come back down) in several cities. It wrongly suggests that only Christian veterans have given their lives for this country and church/state separation groups have argued it’s an example of the government promoting Christianity.
Back in October, the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Rebecca Markert sent a letter to the city attorney, acting on behalf of a local resident, saying the monument needed to come down for those reasons. It seemed to do the trick.
In its reply a few weeks later, the city attorney essentially admitted that the Belle Plaine Veterans Club put up the memorial without city approval. The response said that the Belle Plaine City Council would consider at its next meeting how to deal with the matter.
FFRF has received word that the memorial statue was taken down Tuesday, Jan. 17…
Great! Problem solved. No lawsuit. No money. Just a warning leading to the city doing the right thing.
That lasted all of a couple of weeks.
After outcry from conservatives who say they love the Constitution but haven’t even read the First Amendment, the Belle Plaine City Council voted 3-2 last night to put the monument back up.
Nearly an hour of debate passed before the council narrowly approved the proposal 3-2 to designate a “limited public forum” at the park, which would accommodate up to five displays — religious or not — as long as they honor military veterans.
It was a victory for the townspeople, many of whom argued that their religious freedom had been infringed upon when the cross was removed in early January. It will soon be returned to the memorial for fallen veterans.
That… was a dumb move. It may be legal, sure, but the elected officials all but guaranteed this situation is going to get even more complicated.
FFRF has already said it’ll apply to put up an atheist memorial:
Markert said the group will consider further legal action and submit its own “Atheists in Foxholes” monument to honor veterans in the town.
Will conservatives in the town be okay with that? They better be, since they asked for it.
The Satanic Temple is considering a monument, too. Spokesperson Lucien Greaves told me:
… we look forward to working with local membership in Belle Plaine to construct a new Satanic display in honor of the Constitutional values of Free Speech and plurality our memorialized soldiers have fought selflessly to defend. Interested parties in Belle Plaine should reach out to The Satanic Temple at firstname.lastname@example.org
Baphomet loves veterans.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)