A group of atheists has demanded the removal of a World War II veterans memorial — because it contains a cross. An attorney with The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint with the Department of Natural Resources, claiming the statue “promotes Christianity.”
In addition to the cross, the 8-foot-tall statue features two soldiers, an eagle, and an American flag. The wooden memorial was carved with a chainsaw by artist Dayle K. Lewis. Although the memorial clearly includes a small white cross, Lewis said it is not meant to “be a religious thing.”
The statue is currently displayed at the Whitewater Memorial State Park in Liberty, Indiana. However, a group of atheists wants the veterans memorial removed immediately.
Attorney Rebecca S. Markert, who filed the formal complaint, explains:
“No secular purpose, no matter how sincere, will detract from the overall message that the Latin cross stands for Christianity and the overall display… will send a message that the government only cares about the deaths of Christian soldiers.”
Interestingly, The Freedom From Religion Foundation learned about the statue through a U.S. Army veteran. As reported by Indy Star, Wendell Bias sent a letter of complaint to the DNR as he feels the cross is inappropriate. Bias further stated that the park should not be used to display “a religious shrine.”
Howard Curry, president of the Union County Development Corp, underlined the fact that taxpayer funds were not used to pay for the memorial statue. Curry said the money was donated by local citizens and veterans groups.
The DNR has not publicly responded to the complaints. Although the atheist group wants the veterans memorial removed, it will remain in the park until the DNR reaches their decision.
Several organizations, including the Union County Korean War Veterans, have started petitions to keep the memorial in its current location. A Facebook group, titled “Keep the Cross Carving at Whitewater Memorial State Park,” is also seeking to preserve the memorial.
As reported by Pal-Item, a California man has offered to purchase the statue and display it on his personal property. Although supporters do not think it is an ideal solution, they are happy the statue will remain on display — despite the DNR’s final ruling.
The atheist group does not care where the World War II veterans memorial is displayed, as long as it is removed from the public park.
[Images via Facebook]