Officials of a Colorado city have opted to allow a pastor and his family to place the name "Jesus" on a tombstone for his recently deceased wife, reversing a previous decision.
Mark Baker, pastor of Harvest Baptist Church, will now be able to have the name "Jesus" put on his late wife's headstone when originally the city of Sterling had barred it.
In a statement released last week in response to the controversy, Sterling officials explained the situation surrounding Riverside Cemetery and their decision on the matter.
"The family was advised by City staff that they…could not have text inscribed inside the Ichthys because of the size of area available for symbols and text on the cover – and pursuant to a long-standing policy at the Cemetery which allows symbols or text, but not text within symbols, on niche covers," reads the press release in part.
"The City Manager and the City Attorney consulted on Thursday morning, October 17, 2013. Based upon that conference a decision was made to honor the family's wishes, which decision was immediately conveyed to the family."
Last week Baker had requested that the headstone of his deceased wife, Linda Baker, have the early Christian symbol of the Ichthys fish and the name Jesus inscribed inside the symbol.
However, the city argued that only one of the two symbols could be used, purportedly due to the size limitations for headstones for the Riverside Cemetery, which is city owned.
The rejection quickly garnered controversy, as opinion columnists like Todd Starnes of Fox News gave the story national headlines.
"It's outrageous that a grieving American family had to fight and cajole a city government to allow them to engage in their Constitutional rights," wrote Starnes.
Stacy Adams, daughter-in-law of Linda Baker, told Starnes that "after we kept pushing them the cemetery director told us that it might offend somebody. They weren't going to allow it."
Sterling City Manager Joe Kiolbasa stated that the issue stemmed from a mistake that "has been corrected" and that Christian imagery "will be allowed," reported 9 News.