A figure of a soldier praying next to a cross, which was part of a war memorial, was done away with from a public park in North Carolina earlier this month, bringing to end a years-long legal battle over the display that seemed to disturb a non-Christian veteran, who went on to file a complaint against it in 2010.
The city council in King referred to the decision to have the display removed as “difficult”, explaining in a press release that the decision was made only after it became clear that the expense of proceeding to trial would surely exceed the city’s insurance policy limits. With a 3-2 vote last week, the council decided to remove the religious elements of the display from King’s Central Park and agreed to settle with a compensation that was agreed upon in the lawsuit titled Steven Hewett versus the City of King. Since two city council members were on either side of the settlement proposal, Mayor Jack Warren offered his vote in favour of removing the symbols to break the tie.
While one of the council members who voted against the proposal reportedly choked up during the debate, another accused the display’s detractors of bullying the city.
“I feel this city has been sabotaged and bullied by folks who don’t believe in what this community stands for. I feel like we have been pressured by insurance companies and attorneys who have never been to King,” said Wesley Carter, while voting against the provision. “They don’t know what we are about and what this community stands for.”
City officials have spent as much as $50,000 to defend the symbols at the park even though the overall cost, which they would have to pay to taxpayers possibly exceeds $2 million. According to the agreement, King would have to pay $500,001 to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the group that filed the lawsuit on behalf of Steven Hewett. Hewett, who identifies himself as a non-Christian, first complained against the religious display in 2010 but at that time, city officials as well as the Mayor fought back, saying the display was constitutional.
Photo Credits: The Blaze