Judge hears request to block public crosses

INDIANAPOLIS - A federal judge will soon decide whether Evansville officials can allow a local church to erect 30 crosses decorated by Bible school children on public land along the Ohio River.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker will hear arguments Thursday in Indianapolis for and against two Evansville residents' request for an injunction to block the city from permitting the 8-foot-tall crosses along Riverside Drive Aug. 4-18.

It isn't clear whether Barker will rule Thursday, but American Civil Liberties Union legal director Ken Falk says it seems likely she will due to the limited time in which either side could appeal her decision.

The ACLU is representing the residents who object to the display, saying it violates constitutional guarantees of separation of church and state.

Both religious and atheist groups from Indianapolis turned out to express their feelings outside the building.

"All religion's poison. Nobody walked on water. There are no talking snakes. None of that. And anybody who believes that, they need to look deep down inside, go get their head examined," protestor Randy Wigle said.

Other groups saw no reason to ban the crosses.

"I don't believe seeing a cross in a public square makes anyone a Christian anymore than seeing a horseshoe makes somebody a Colts fan. So I don't, I think they're overreaching. I think this is a matter of equal access," said Michah Clark with the American Family Association.

The crosses were scheduled to go up Aug. 4, and both sides were hoping for a ruling from the judge Thursday, but Barker gave no indication of when the decision would come down.

Follow Norman Cox on Twitter: @normancox6

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