- (Photo: Evansville Garage Doors)
The Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a motion to intervene on behalf of a group of Indiana churches being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union for a proposed display of crosses on public property.
Filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, the motion was filed for 10 churches located in the Evansville area.
Bryan Beauman, an ADF allied attorney involved in the case, told The Christian Post that with the paperwork filed a hearing for the ACLU lawsuit has been scheduled for Thursday.
"Christians have the same First Amendment rights as anyone else in America and the government cannot treat people with non-religious viewpoints more favorably than people with religious viewpoints," said Beauman.
Last month, a group of churches were granted permission by the city of Evansville to display about 30 artistically decorated crosses, each about six feet tall, at the public riverfront area.
The request was submitted by West Side Christian Church, with the crosses to be displayed for two weeks in August as part of a fundraiser for local charities.
In addition to West Side Christian, the other congregations involved were Dove Chapel Baptist Church; Faith Church of the Nazarene; Good Shepherd Assembly of God; Potters Wheel Ministries; St. James West United Methodist Church; The Cathedral of Evansville; and The Connection Church, of Evansville, Ind. They were joined by Maranatha Baptist Church of Newburgh, Indiana and Freedom Baptist Church of Owensboro, Kentucky.
According to an ADF press release, each church will decorate some of the crosses and then they will bring them together next month as part of an event dubbed "Cross the River."
In June, days after the permit was granted by the city of Evansville, the Indiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sued.
Gavin M. Rose, ACLU of Indiana staff attorney, said in a statement released on the day of the suit being filed, that the churches were violating the First Amendment.
"The First Amendment prohibits the government from endorsing a particular religious faith, or religion at all," said Rose.
"While the church can certainly display emblems of its faith on its own property, the city of Evansville may not allow it to do so in the public right-of-way."
When asked by CP about the First Amendment issue, Beauman of the ADF replied that "ACLU's misinterpretation of the First Amendment should not be allowed to uproot this fundamental freedom."
"This public property has been used numerous times for other gatherings and displays," said Beauman.
"A public display, approved in the same way as other types of displays cannot be singled out for censorship simply because it is in the shape of a cross."
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana did not return comment to The Christian Post by press time.