A local secular group supports the removal of religious symbol on public property in Ozark:
The Springfield Skeptics, a local secular community group serving Springfield, MO and the
surrounding areas, was pleased to learn that one of their members alerted the Freedom From Religion
Foundation (FFRF) of the existence of a large cross erected on public property in Ozark, MO. Though the FFRF is
a Wisconsin based group, it works on behalf of anonymous local organization members concerning legal matters
in relation to the separation of church and state. This cross represents a form of government-endorsed religion
and is a gross constitutional violation of the Establishment Clause which ensures the separation of church and
The Springfield Skeptics fully endorse the removal of the Ozark cross and furthermore will assist in any efforts
the city needs to ensure its removal. The cross being on public property represents an overall Christian privilege
and disrespect for those who believe differently in the Ozarks. As court case upon court case has agreed with the
FFRF’s position that religious symbols on public land are a constitutional violation, the city of Ozark is faced with
few options: 1) to remove the cross, 2) to allow other religious and non-religious symbols to be erected
alongside the cross, or 3) to waste taxpayers money fighting a losing battle in the court system, which will
ultimately result in a court order to choose between the first two options.
We were encouraged by the city of Ozark’s initial press release which clearly stated their understanding of the
Constitution and the unconstitutionality of the cross being on public land, but were later dismayed by the
mayor’s disparaging comments and the city’s reversal of that initial decision. We hope in the following weeks
the city of Ozark and its leaders come to their senses and uphold the Constitution’s effort to separate church
(Information provided by The Springfield Skeptics)
The city of Ozark has reversed course, saying it will keep a large cross lit in the Finley River Park for now.
The cross is park of a big Christmas light display.
The city got a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, asking Ozark to take it down.
The city issued a statement earlier today saying it would unplug it.
The park is leased by the city from a private company.
Here’s the latest statement from the city of Ozark:
We released a press release earlier with the facts as they have been presented to us thus far.
As the day unfolded and citizens commented on this topic, we have determined that in the best interest of all parties we shall continue working through the legalities of the situation.
Therefore, the cross in the Finley River Park will remain in place until a further due diligence can be completed regarding this matter.
The city of Ozark is taking down a cross that’s been part of a Christmas light display in the Finley River Park.
The city got a complaint not from an individual, but from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
The city has unplugged the cross.
In a statement, the city says it decided it’s better to do it now because if a lawsuit is filed, it would lose.
You can read the full statement below:
The City of Ozark recently received a letter requesting the removal of the cross from the Finley River Park.
The complaint did not come to the City from an individual, but rather was a complaint from the legal department of the national organization (FFRF) the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
While we respect the interests of those who have long enjoyed the holiday display in Finley River Park, we must acknowledge the Federal Constitution and its interpretation by the U.S. Supreme Court.
This letter has brought a concern to our attention and we cannot ignore the First Amendment which protects freedom of speech, protects freedom of the press, protects the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and prohibits the government from making laws or taking actions that may promote or prohibit one religion over another.
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the government from making any law respecting establishment of religion.
The United States Supreme Court has interpreted this clause, generally known as the Establishment Clause, to prohibit items such as the cross from being displayed by the government on government property.
It is the position of the City of Ozark that leaving a religious symbol on public property, in this case a cross, will result in a law suit that we will not win as the other communities throughout the U.S. and our own region have tried this and lost.