ACLU Lawsuit Forces Removal of Cross Atop Indiana Christmas Tree
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has forced a central Indiana town to remove the cross atop its Christmas tree, in order to avoid legal fees and damages. The town announced this capitulation on Monday, after the ACLU brought a lawsuit against it.
ACLU Indiana brought a lawsuit against the town of Knightstown last Thursday, arguing that the cross violated the separation of church and state, the Associated Press reported. The lawsuit alleged that Knightstown resident Joseph Tompkins "is forced to come into direct and unwelcome contact" with the tree as he drives through town. This contact has caused him "irreparable harm," which can only be remedied by the removal of the cross and paying Tompkins' monetary damages.
Yes, you read that right — a man claims that merely seeing the cross atop a Christmas tree has caused him "irreparable harm." This is concrete proof that the kind of anti-speech coddling that has sadly taken over American universities can spill into the general public. Claiming to be "offended" is a trump card that can silence other people's right to free expression. This is one of the reasons Trump won.
The suit alleged that the Latin cross "is the preeminent symbol of Christianity, representing the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus." Since the display is religious, the suit claimed, it has no business on town property.
On Monday, the Knightstown News and Events Facebook page announced that the town will remove the cross. "It is with regret and sadness that the Knightstown Town Council has had the cross removed from the Christmas tree on the town square and is expected to approve a resolution at the next council meeting stating they will not return the cross to the tree," the council announced in a statement.
"We could not win the court case brought by the ACLU," the council admitted. "We would have been required to pay the legal fees of the ACLU lawyer and monetary damage to the plaintiff, Mr. Joseph Tompkins, as set by the Court. This is our statement based on advice from our legal counsel."
In a statement updated Tuesday, the ACLU Indiana chapter argued that Tompkins "sought only to have the religious symbol removed, and did not seek monetary damages for the suit."
In the statement, Ken Falk, the Indiana chapter's legal director, explicitly condemned the cross as a violation of the establishment clause. "The cross is the best known symbol of Christianity and Knightstown's prominent display of this symbol represents an establishment of religion in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution."
Next Page: Why a cross on a Christmas tree is not an "establishment of religion."