Free Will Baptists Oppose City's Removal of Religious Soldier Display

An association of Baptists passed a resolution denouncing the removal of silhouetted figurines of soldiers in prayer from street signs by a city manager in Oklahoma.

The Gaines Creek Association of Free Will Baptists recently met and sent a request to the McAlester City Council to reverse City Manager Peter J. Stasiak's decision to remove the figurines.

Brent Jarrett, moderator of the Gaines Creek Association, told The Christian Post that Stasiak said he removed the praying soldier figurines because of a concern that people might be offended.

"You see every day the Christian liberties are getting removed. It's alright if it offends a Christian, but if it offends anyone else then that's not right," said Jarrett.

"And I think it should be freedom for all. Our Christian liberties are getting taken away every day seems like. That's why we took a stand. Nobody is taking a stand in a lot of places."

The silhouetted soldiers on the street signs were paid for by a local businessman named Bob Wallace. Last month, the city removed the figurines due to church-state concerns.

In an interview with local media, City of McAlester attorney Joe Ervin explained that there was a good legal reasoning for removing the figurines.

"The First Amendment prohibits government from any establishment of religion; the cross is a Christian symbol," said Ervin to the McAlester News-Capital. "It's the same as if it had been a crescent moon or the Star of David or any symbol representing a specific faith."

A letter sent by Gaines Creek along with a resolution to the city council explained that the silhouettes were constitutional because silent prayer is constitutional.

"The United states Supreme Court has ruled that silent prayer, a moment of silence, silent meditation is legal," reads the letter. "The Gaines Creek Association of Fee Will Baptists stand opposed to the removal of the 'figurines' depicting US Military kneeling in silent prayer."

While the City of McAlester would remove the silhouettes from various street signs, around the same time according to the News-Capital they did install an "In God We Trust" sign in the City Hall lobby.

According to Jarrett, the Gaines Creek Association is presently awaiting a response from McAlester City Council regarding their request.

Peter J. Stasiak, city manager of McAlester, did not respond to a request for comment by press time.