July/August 2019 Church & State Magazine | AU Bulletin

Officials in east Texas’s San Jacinto County aren’t reacting well to a suggestion that they remove large crosses from the local courthouse.

The courthouse, located in the county seat of Coldspring, has four white crosses in its upper windows that are usually lit up during the Christmas season. A local resident complained, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote to officials about the matter.

Not only did the officials not remove the crosses, they responded by illuminating them, even though they would normally be dark at this time of year. They later boasted about it on social media.

Many residents in the town of about 900 reacted with anger to the complaint. A minister suggested that people who don’t like the crosses should inhale carbon monoxide.

Another resident, David Blevins, told a Houston television station, “If it offends them, close your eyes when you go by. If you don’t like it, don’t look at it.”

That suggestion didn’t sit well with Americans United, which argued that the crosses send a message of government support of Christianity.

“Telling people to avert their gaze does nothing to dispel that message,” wrote Church & State Editor Rob Boston on AU’s “Wall of Separation” blog. “Even when you can’t see them, the crosses – and the message of favoritism toward some and exclusion toward others that they project – are still there. Officials in San Jacinto County need to remove the crosses. But that’s just the first step. The second (and more important) action is for them to embrace an old-fashioned idea called equal justice for all.”

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