Saturday, November 03, 2012

Lawsuit Challenges Christian Flag In City Veterans' Memorial Park

A federal lawsuit was filed yesterday against King, North Carolina alleging that flying a Christian flag  over a veterans' memorial in a city park violates the Establishment Clause as well as provisions of the North Carolina constitution. Plaintiff, Steven Hewett, is a decorated Army veteran who served in Afghanistan. The complaint (full text) in Hewett v. City of King, (MD NC, filed 11/2/2012), alleges :
2.... the City has exploited the memory of American soldiers for the purpose of promoting Christianity. When the City built a Veterans’ Memorial in the City’s Central Park, it included a Christian flag; no other religions were represented in the Memorial. When Mr. Hewett objected, the City Manager warned that Mr. Hewett would “answer to God and Jesus Christ”; the Mayor stated—at a City Council meeting, no less—that Mr. Hewett “needs us to pray for him.”
3. After its lawyer warned that its conduct was unconstitutional, the City purported to remove the flag; but it immediately established a sham “limited public forum” as a “plan for returning the Christian flag to the Veteran’s Memorial.” True to plan, under the so-called public forum, the very same Christian flag has flown at the Veterans’ Memorial all but a few weeks of every year. 
4. Flying the Christian flag is not the only way that the City promotes Christianity at the Veterans Memorial. Next to the Christian flag, the City built a statue of a soldier kneeling before a cross.... Official, City-sponsored events to commemorate Veterans’ Day, Memorial Day, and September 11 have consistently featured multiple Christian prayers delivered by City officials and invited clergy.
WMFY News reported on the filing of the lawsuit.