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Published On: Wed, Jul 31st, 2013

Judge sides with ACLU in Indiana lawsuit to stop a display of crosses on riverfront property

A federal judge ruled Wednesday against a planned display of crosses on the Evansville riverfront, noting the size of the crosses and the length of the display in her decision.

 WEST SIDE CHRISTIAN CHURCH

WEST SIDE CHRISTIAN CHURCH

Judge Sarah Evans Barker sided with the ACLU of Indiana, which represented Chris Cabral and Nancy Tarsitano Drake in their lawsuit against the City of Evansville. The two said the city violated their First Amendment rights by voting in July to allow the West Side Christian Church to display 30 crosses, each 6 feet tall, on publicly-owned riverfront property.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit to block the display, which had been scheduled for for Aug. 4-18.

“… We conclude that based on the size and scope of the project, this planned display of crosses would convey a message of the City’s endorsement of Christianity to the reasonable observer, and would violate the Establishment Clause,” Judge Barker stated.

Barker noted constitutional concern rests with “oversized, imposing and somewhat overpowering size, scope, and magnitude of the display.”

“It is the forcefulness … based on size and scope of the display that catapults it into the range of constitutionally prohibited speech.,” Barker wrote.

Barker also noted length of unattended display on city land “can naturally be viewed as belonging to owner of the land on which it stands.”

Drake was pleased with the ruling. “It’s not an anti-Christian position whatsoever. It’s just a matter of keeping church and state separate.”

West Side Christian Church and other area churches involved with the “Cross the River” project were not immediately certain what their next move would be. Options include submitting a different proposal to the city for a smaller display on public right of way, or using privately owned land for the display, said Chris Wischer, attorney for the churches.

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- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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