City Creates Public Forum after Atheist Complaint over Memorial
The town of Belle Plaine, Minnesota, opted to create a “limited public forum” after the Freedom From Religion Foundation threatened to sue them into financial ruin.
Because of a veterans’ memorial.
A display in a cemetery in Belle Plaine, Minnesota, honoring veterans consists of a soldier kneeling in prayer before a cross next to a grave. But a local citizen complained to the atheist Freedom From Religion Foundation. Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Doug Wardlow tells OneNewsNow the city council received a threatening letter from FFRF, contending the Constitution was being violated.
The town council initially voted to cut the cross off the memorial — which naturally created an uproar. With assistance from the ADF, the town ultimately agreed to create a “limited public forum” which would technically alleviate any potential constitutional issue. Further:
FFRF has vowed to construct a memorial to “Atheists in Foxholes” should the community adopt the limited public forum solution.
As with the decisions by some locales to cede small plots of land to eliminate the “government land” under cross memorials, it is a “creative” solution, but it is ultimately a false problem. The Bell Plaine memorial is an iconic silhouette of a soldier and a headstone, not a US troop worshipping at a cross. It should be defended for the secular memorial that it is, and the FFRF should be justifiably mocked for seeking offense over every passing reference to something remotely religious.
Further, even if the memorial was religious, just because something is religious does not mean it needs to be scrubbed from the public square. So, yes, the creative “solution” may end the controversy, but it ultimately weakens the American foundation of protecting religious liberty — which includes the government not being hostile to something merely because it has (something resembling) religious content.
Despite the FFRF’s claims, it is not illegal to display “patently religious symbols on city property.” They may wish the US Constitution said that, but it does not.