There has been a depressing fight going on in Ozark, Missouri, over a large lighted cross in a public park to celebrate Christmas. The rather ugly, lighted 20+ foot cross was constructed around a utility pole and is part of a drive-through holiday light display in Finley River Park. The problem with the lighted cross is quite clear from past rulings by the courts: The government must remain neutral with regard to religion, allowing secular symbols, such Santa Claus, reindeer, and snowmen, while disallowing religious symbols (see County of Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union, 492 U.S. 573, 1989).
The placement of the 20 feet tall Christian cross is not only a clear violation but also just the wrong symbol. According to the myth, baby Jesus was born in a manger on Christmas day. The whole execution-on-the-cross comes much later in the story, so in what way is the cross any part of the Christmas story?
Adding to the temporal misplacement (Christmas is not Easter) is the most recent Federal court ruling on the matter, issued in September of this year. In that case, “three U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals judges ruled to uphold the lower court’s ruling that the city maintaining a cross in a public park was unconstitutional, and the cross must be removed.”
As for Ozark, Missouri, why not represent the secular icons of the season, of which there are plenty to go around? Let Christmas be the season of reindeer and Santa Claus. Let utility poles be poles. Even though Ozark sits in Christian County, Missouri (a true fact), it still needs to respect that there is a well-established separation of state and church to uphold.