A city in Iowa is deciding what to do with an image of Jesus on one of its fire trucks after receiving a local "friendly complaint" that the image was not inclusive of all faiths.
The Cedar Rapids Fire Department says it is currently looking for a solution regarding the image found on the bucket of one of its 100-foot long aerial ladder trucks. The image shows a firefighter in full gear, while behind him is a silhouette of a man holding a staff. Although some residents point out the image is open to interpretation, many others say it represents the classic image of Jesus. Underneath the image reads Psalm 23:1, which says, "The Lord is my shepherd."
The image has reportedly been on the fire truck since the vehicle was purchased by the fire department in 1997. The department recently received a call from the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission after the commission received a "friendly complaint" from a local resident who questioned if government dollars were used to paint the image of Jesus on the truck.
Local Fire Chief Mark English told KCRG-TV that the image was on the fire truck when the department purchased it new in 1997, and the Cedar Rapids Fire Department paid no money to have the image painted or touched up in the past 17 years.
According to The Gazette, the truck was purchased new in 1997 by Pierce Manufacturing, based in Appleton, Wis.
"That image was on the truck when we bought it. We did not ask for that. We did not pay any money for it," Chief English told KCRG-TV, adding that this is the first time he has heard a complaint about the truck. English also said his firefighters take "personal solace" in the image.
"A lot of them take personal solace in it and faith in it. They like it. They want to see it stay."
The Fire Department is now reportedly looking into ways to amend the image so it is more inclusive of all faiths. The department does have the option of removing the image altogether, but such a process would probably require government dollars, while amending the image to include all faiths could be paid for through fundraised funds.
Additionally, the local fire department is reportedly receiving a new truck in the near future, and therefore the older one containing the Jesus image will not be actively used as a first response vehicle.
John-Paul Chaisson-Cardenas, executive director of the local Civil Rights Commission, told The Gazette that he and Chief English are working "amicably" to reach a resolution for the image.
Chaisson-Cardenas added that it is important to accommodate both the community and the local firefighters who sacrifice their lives to ensure safety. "Especially for those people who are running into fires on our behalf," he said. "They are there when we have emergencies. So we also have to be accommodating to them."
"The Cedar Rapids Fire Department is invested in supporting all faiths in our community," English added in a statement.