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ACLU files suit for Knightstown resident challenging religious display

Updated: Dec. 13, 2016

On Dec. 12, Knightstown officials removed a religious symbol from the town square in response to a lawsuit filed Dec. 8 by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana on behalf of Knightstown, Ind. resident Joseph Tompkins. The lawsuit challenges the Town of Knightstown's display of a Latin cross on a large evergreen tree on the square. The tree is also decorated with lights and ornaments in celebration of Christmas. The plaintiff, citing a violation of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, sought only to have the religious symbol removed, and did not seek monetary damages for the suit. Attorneys are looking at a resolution to this case.

In 1986, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in ACLU of Illinois v. City of St. Charles, affirmed a preliminary injunction stopping the City of St. Charles from displaying a cross on a television antenna that was on top of its fire department.

"The cross is the best known symbol of Christianity and Knightstown's prominent display of this symbol represents an establishment of religion in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution," said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director.

Click here for a copy of the lawsuit 

Click here for a copy of the Memorandum in Support for Motion of Preliminary Injunction