Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Removal of A Cross Atop A Public Building Was An Act of Cowardice

As promised, I am posting an update on the cross atop a former Catholic hospital acquired by a public school district. In an a cowardly act to avoid a public vote, the Reading School District removed the cross atop the proposed “Citadel” school in order to avoid a public vote, despite the postponement of the vote to keep it in place in order to give two newly elected members an opportunity to study the facts. The removal of the nearly 140-year-old cross and replacement with a finial at taxpayer expense damaged the roof of the structure it has sat upon since 1873.

The objection I raised to its removal on my last day in office as a Reading School Director on December 7 for historical, architectural and financial reasons I explained in my earlier post (Merry Christmas; I Am Grateful a Cross Remains Atop a Public Building Through My Efforts), temporarily delayed this action and enabled a public debate. However, the School Board escaped a recorded vote on whether to keep it by violating the will of a majority of its members to vote on it by exercising an informed choice. The excuse the District used that it had no choice but to remove the cross because its removal was in the original plans ignores three facts: 1) its removal was never discussed specifically in the first place, 2) there are only three School Directors still serving who voted on those plans out of the current nine members of the Board, and 3) the Board makes changes to the plans every month, which refutes the suggestion that they cannot be changed.

The motion to table the motion to keep the cross in place should have been restated by the Board President as a motion to postpone the motion to keep the cross to a definite time because the intent of the motion to table was not to kill the underlying motion, but only to postpone its consideration. Thus, the will of the majority to debate and vote on the question was usurped by the unilateral actions of the School District's administration and the Board President.

The cross symbolizes the Crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus is a religious figure not only for Christians, but for members of several other faiths, as well. Although a cross may be a religious symbol, it may also be interpreted as a historical symbol of the most influential human in history, one who influenced Western Civilization's ideas of liberty and equality. Like terrorists, those who object to public acknowledgement of Jesus intimidate others to give into their demands that no government agency acknowledge the Creator, from Whom Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence our rights as human beings come. The only difference is in the strategy of lawsuits instead of attacks on innocent civilians, but the intent is the same: the denial of liberty. In the case in Reading, no one even threatened a lawsuit, one that could have been defended under the Pennsylvania Constitution because of the unique historical, architectural and financial arguments. Indeed, its removal arguably violated that document's prohibition against requiring citizens to support a ministry financially by advancing the religion of secular humanism at taxpayer expense. Letting the cross in place would not have forced anyone to support a ministry through taxpayer funds.

No one has yet responded to my point that there are also crosses on the Gothic Revival-style Reading High School, with which the Citadel School is intended to correspond. Although they are less prominent than the large Latin cross removed from the three-story Chapel, I am consoled that there remain other crosses on the Citadel.

Our liberty depends upon the belief in the American creed that our rights come from our Creator, which makes it the duty of public officials to acknowledge Him, not to eschew His acknowledgement. The controversy over the cross atop the Citadel was not the first time I fulfilled my duty. I hope my example inspires other public officials, whom I call upon to acknowledge God as the source of our rights. May God bless Pennsylvania and America.

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