After a church-state watchdog group threatened to sue Missouri for having a “Jesus fish” symbol on a war memorial that was erected in honour of the bravery of two soldiers who were killed during the Gulf War, county officials decided to cover up the Christian symbol.
The symbol, popularly referred to as an ichthus, has been part of the statue since it was installed at the Courthouse Plaza in Columbia in 1992 in memory of Patrick Connor and Steven Farnen, both of whom were killed on duty during the Gulf War. However, Americans United for Separation of Church and State believes the symbol placed on a public structure is a constitutional violation. Thus, the secular group threatened legal action against the county earlier this year.
The Boone County Commission however responded saying they would cover up the symbol at the earliest possible time to make sure the public monument is wholly secular in nature. Reportedly, a plaque reading, “Dedicated 1992” will now be used to cover up the Jesus fish.
While Americans United for Separation of Church and State seems content with this decision made by Missouri officials, Connor’s parents have taken great offense. When they were informed of the planned cover-up, Connor’s mother Marsha told the media that this move would dishonor the fallen.
“The Jesus fish symbol was in recognition of their personal faith. This is not an attempt to establish a governmental religion,” she wrote in an email to the outlet. “The action changing the memorial is an affront to the beliefs upon which the United States was founded. … Action taken by elected officials spending government funds dishonoring a veteran’s memorial is questionable.”
Architect Peter Scavone, who used to live in Boone County, raised the funds for the monument to be installed at the spot 22 years ago. He believes Missouri officials have desecrated the structure by covering up the ichthus.
Photo Credits: Columbia Daily Tribune