Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fire Company's Role In Transporting Virgin Mary Statue Criticized

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has written the Jackson Mills, New Jersey Fire Company complaining of its role in transporting a 9-foot tall statue of the Virgin Mary between area churches. AU says that the fire department's activities create an "unmistakable message" of governmental endorsement of religion, particularly of the Catholic faith. (Text of Sept. 26 Letter). The tour of the statue around New York, in commemoration of the anniversary of 9-11, is sponsored by the Ohio-based Our Lady of America Center. According to the AU Release:
In New York, the firefighters, dressed in their official uniforms, carried the statue into the Church of St. Peter and helped install it near the altar. In Howell, the firefighters transported the statue to St. Veronica’s Roman Catholic Church and used a fire truck, with lights flashing and sirens blaring, as part of a processional that culminated in the parking lot of the church.

The motorcade also included fire trucks from nearby Jackson Township and police vehicles. The firefighters then joined members of the Knights of Columbus in carrying the statue into the church, and the event concluded with a special mass.