Evansville Riverside Cross Display – Would Those in Favor Also Support Other Religious or Non-Religious Symbolic Displays?
As you are probably aware, the Evansville Board of Public Works has approved the display of 30 crosses along Downtown Evansville's riverfront August 4-18. This has been a hot button topic since it was first announced on June 20th. Most people are in favor of this display under the guise of the First Amendment. Some are opposed to this and believe the display is a way to force religion on people. In fact, the A.C.L.U. has filed a lawsuit against the city of Evansville for approving this display and only time will tell what comes of that.
The city for it's part, made it perfectly clear the crosses will function more as statues and are not allowed to have any writing on them whatsoever, so they would not be considered religious symbols. I think we can all agree however, that whether the crosses have writing on them or not, they are universally recognized as symbols of Christianity, but that is not the purpose of this article.
The one overwhelming sentiment expressed by most, including those at the West Side Christian Church who made the request for the display in the first place, is the support for the right to have such a display and to give equal support to similar displays by other religious and non-religious groups. That is what I want to deal with here.
My question is a simple one - would you support the right of an organization or group that wanted a similar display, even though the belief of that organization is counter to your beliefs and principles? You know, the old saying, "I don't agree with what you say, but I will defend with my life your right to say it."
What if a group wanted a display of upside down crosses, or worse yet, swastikas? What if the Westboro Baptist Church opened a chapter here in Evansville and wanted a display of their symbol right alongside the crosses...would you support their right to display what they believe? If not, wouldn't that be hypocritical? Just because something is counter to what you believe doesn't make that symbolic display any less important to those who believe as you don't.
This is a primary reason for the separation between church and state. I think the biggest problem that some have with this issue is that it was decided by a city government panel and if you say yes to one display, how do you say no to another?
This article is not about whether or not you are in favor of the cross display or not, because according to all of the available information, and some social media posts, the majority are in favor of it. This article is about the right to express your belief in the same way that others express theirs and supporting that right even if it conflicts with everything you hold near and dear.
None of this has anything to do with crosses, religion or non-religion. It has everything to do with the right and freedom to express yourself fairly and equally and the support of that right and the freedom to do so.