Last year, I posted about a giant hydraulic cross that went up several times a year atop Dewey Hill in Grand Haven, Michigan:
You can read the history of that cross here but the question was whether this constituted government promotion of religion.
In October, atheist activists Mitch Kahle and Holly Huber began challenging the Hydraulic Cross. With residents Brian and Kathy Plescher and attorneys from Americans United for Separation of Church and State, they requested that the Cross be used to promote their own views… by decorating it to celebrate LGBT pride, the winter solstice, reproductive rights, and atheism.
Hilarious. And a perfect response to anyone who claimed the Cross wasn’t really about promoting religion.
Last we heard, the Cross was going to be turned into a permanent anchor, a perfect way to make sure no group could use it to advance a personal agenda.
But a couple of months ago, appropriately on April Fools Day, a lawsuit was filed to prevent the city from taking down the cross. In other words, keeping the government neutral somehow constituted discrimination against Christians.
The suit was filed by a group of anonymous citizens calling themselves “Citizens of Grand Haven”:
The plaintiffs claim there’s a “necessity for immediate action.”
“The urgency is the peak time for the waterfront and Dewey Hill is fast approaching,” the complaint asserts. “The necessity is to avoid the continued appearance, already publicized, that the community of Grand Haven is hostile to the Cross as religious speech.”
The complaint argues that the city council’s decision “singling out” the cross and keeping the non-religious anchor was “viewpoint discrimination” and violated the equal protection and free speech clauses of the state constitution.
“The resolution endorses a hostility toward religious speech” and is not “viewpoint neutral,” the lawsuit asserts.
Let me reiterate just how stupid this lawsuit was. It suggested that a government-owned symbol was hostile toward religion because it wasn’t advancing Christianity. By that logic, I guess every government building that didn’t have a cross on top of it was anti-Christian, too.
This week, a judge rightfully dismissed that lawsuit:
[Ottawa County Circuit Judge Jon] Hulsing said the group did not meet the basic criteria for an “unincorporated voluntary association,” so they could not file a lawsuit.
So it was dismissed on a technicality. But even if the organization met the criteria, and even if the plaintiffs used their real names instead of hiding behind the cloak of anonymity, there’s almost no chance the lawsuit would have been successful.
Too bad. This will just give them another reason to whine about how they’re being persecuted, when they really deserve to be told they’re just flat-out wrong on this one.
(Thanks to Brian for the link. Large portions of this article were published earlier)