Tuesday, May 29, 2012

ACLU Against Traffic Island Cross in Middleborough

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) may be preparing for yet another battle over the presence of a cross on public property. This time, the scene of the debate is Middleborough, Massachusetts, where a large, brick cross with the word “worship” present on it is creating angst among secularists who view it as an overt constitutional violation. The structure, which was built on a traffic island by the Middleborough Kiwanis Club back in 1959, is considered — unofficially — to be a historic landmark by residents and local leaders, alike. The cross, which measures 12 feet in height by seven feet in width, includes a Kiwanis emblem at its base. It was originally conceived and advocated for decades ago by the Rev. Francis Schlater, a faith leader who is now deceased. While many locals support the cross’ presence, a lawyer who drove past it a few months ago decided to file a complaint with the state’s Department of Transportation (DOT). The roadside religious symbol, he contends, violates the separation of church and state. The battle is shaping up to be a complicated one, with the Kiwanis Club doubling down on its defense of the cross. Local officials, too, hold a positive view of the symbol and, thus far, seem to be defending it. But the state, which owns a portion of the traffic island, reportedly wants the town to remove it. The ACLU, naturally, agrees with this stance and is siding against Kiwanis. READ MORE

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