Alsip Drops Holiday Cross Over Lawsuit Threat

A Wisconsin-based foundation threatened to sue the village over the display of a cross used in Christmas decorations. The Freedom from Religion Foundation said the village's Holiday Cross is "unconstitutional."

OUTSIDE CHICAGO -- A cross used as part of a local village's holiday decorations for three decades won't be put up this year, according to a letter posted on the village's website.

The letter from Mayor Patrick Kitching states a Holiday Cross decoration used annually on the West Water Tower, located on West 119th Street in Alsip, won't be installed. The cross has been part of a nearly 35-year tradition for the village.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation threatened to sue the village over the symbol, Kitching's letter states.

"I am very saddened by this and had hoped we would not have to change tradition," Kitching states in the letter. "However in these economic times, the village cannot afford to waste any tax dollars on a lawsuit that simply cannot be won."

A staff attorney from the Freedom from Religion Foundation wrote the Alsip in December 2011, objecting to a display of a cross on village property. By putting up a Latin cross, Alsip is demonstrating a preference for Christianity over other religions, the organization argues.

The "fundamental principle" of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment, says the government can't "advance, promote or endorse religion," the foundation's letter states. Displaying the cross demonstrates "government endorsements of Christianity, a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause."

The letter cites cases brought against other municipalities where federal courts supported the idea that a Christian cross is a religious symbol, according to the foundation's letter. It mentions bringing a lawsuit against the Town of Whiteville, Tenn., over a similar matter.

"No court of final resort has ever upheld the government's permanent display of a Christian cross on public land as constitutional," the letter states.

Alsip chose, instead, not to "waste taxpayer dollars to fight a losing battle in court," according to the village's letter.

Click here to see Mayor Kitching's letter.

The water tower cross will be replaced with a different decoration in the future but it wasn't certain to happen in time for Christmas 2012, Kitching writes.

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Oak Lawn / Palos / Beverly-Mt. Greenwood/ Evergreen Park

STM November 24, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Some people that write comments to the Patch should learn how to spell. I do agree that there is GOD. In my life I broke away from church several times for long periods at a time because I was busy working to support my family , I was very tired all the time, I wanted to spend time with my children and that is when my life became miserable. It seemed that everything went wrong, I couldn't do things that I used to , etc. So I went back to church and my whole life turned around to a point that I was once again happy, I could perform things that I couldn't when I did not go to church. I was a different person and others noticed the difference in me. Also in my life I had three very serious accidents that to me seems that I should have been gone, but I believe that GOD saved me. I believe in freedom of religion and I would not care if there was a crescent for the muslims displayed on the water tower. Merry Christmas to all. GOD bless the world.
Nancy Prior November 25, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Thank you STM - for sharing your faith in God! God showed you His Grace - it's amazing that we all get exactly what we need! (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me). Have a very Merry Christmas!
Jon K. Stark January 04, 2013 at 06:43 PM
..enjoyed the Alsip HOLIDAY TREE this year!
Frank Santora January 04, 2013 at 07:49 PM
To Jon K. Stark; The word HOLIDAY is a contraction of HOLY DAY. Let me remind you, CHRISTMAS is a HOLY DAY. While you may get some small enjoyment out of annoying Christians, just remember one thing; God will forgive you for your sins, but there are many people less than perfect, myself included. I choose to offer what you may take to be the highest insult that you will receive. MERRY CHRISTMAS! I hope that you enjoy causing others to be upset while it lasts. I hope that your smug attitude will someday be repaid by someone who does NOT think that you are so cute, or smart, and will let you know it in a very painful way. Like I said, I am one of those less than perfect people.
Jon K. Stark January 04, 2013 at 07:57 PM
LOL I celebrated Christmas in my personal life and went to church this year, as usual. Try not to fall out of your chair. Was relieved to see this gross violation of the law remedied finally and the city of Alsip revert to the correct neutral state with respect to religion. Also was happy to see all of the individuals who chose to display crosses on their personal property in Alsip, as it should be. It is their right after all. Looked back at the comments above and was entertained by all of the hate and assumptions. That's OK that the root of Holiday is "holiday". Holy to whom? Not just Christians....but also the others who happen to celebrate during that season.


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