Thursday, October 16, 2008

Edmond, OK & the Jesus Statue

Edmond, OK --- a city with a history of church/state legal woes (click here for article) --- yesterday authorized taxpayer money to purchase a statue of Christ to be placed downtown.

That was yesterday.

Many supporters claimed the statue wasn't religious at all saying it was generic & could be anything/anyone, not necessarily Jesus. The statue is of a man with kids around & arms outstretched, & looks conspicuously like the Americanized version of what Jesus would look like. Oh, yeah, & there is a Bible verse on it that says "Come Unto Me." Don't forget the statue is being placed in front of a Catholic Gift Shop. Sure looks like $3900 of tax payer money was supporting a certain religion. Somebody please tell me if the pic doesn't look amazingly like the All American Jesus we promulgate here in the US of A?

Amazing, really.

[AU's Barry] Lynn said using public funds on the project is a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution.

"You cannot promote what is obviously a very specific religious image using tax dollars," Lynn said. "The city lawyers should have stopped this. This isn't even close to the line. This is way over it."

Edmond's city attorney, Stephen Murdock, said, "I think there are differences of opinions regarding that issue." He declined to say what his recommendations were to the commission.

A few years ago, the city faced hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees after losing a case involving a cross in the government seal, according to the AP report quoted above. Oddly enough, the same stunt was almost done a few years ago when public outcry finally halted a $17,500 taxpayer outlay of a statue of Moses.

But, today, cooler heads have prevailed. The mayor has decided (click here for article) that the tax payer shouldn't be on the hook for anyone's religious iconography. Of course, I'm sure the lawyers had something to do with this --- painfully obvious that a lawsuit would be an expensive loss.

Here's the American's United blog by Sandhya Bathija on the subject.


Drew Tatusko said...

To test it, someone should put a statue of Ganesha right next to it. After all, it's just an elephant. Be interesting to see the arguments that would be pulled out on that.

Georgia Mountain Man said...

Separation of church and state aside, you'd think that the citizens would have been outraged to see their tax money being spent to publicize a private business. If it had been another statue, you can bet they would have been out in force. Thankfully, the mayor acted, even if it was out of fear, rather than support of the Constitution.

foxofbama said...

Thanks for the tip on John Witte at Berry next Thursday at 4 pm.
I may see you there.
You will want to google up the facinating column by Kathryn Lofton of Princeton in Religion Dispatches on the God of John McCain.
I'm looking for a lively discussion at Berry if I make it over.