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Easter crosses create a debate of separation of church and state

In Ohio, this year Easter is turning into a debate of church and state. According to the Associated Press on Thursday, this issue is being caused by a pair of crosses that are being displayed on the Stratton Village Municipal Building in observation of the upcoming holiday.

In Ohio crosses on a government building have drawn the attention the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Buda Mendes/ Getty Images

The group, based in Madison, Wisconsin, doesn’t believe it is constitutional to display crosses during the holidays—or at any time—, as Mayor John Abdalla has asserted. The Freedom From Religion Foundation already threatened to sue back in January and the crosses were removed. However, the crosses were put back up at the beginning of April in honor of Easter Sunday.

Prior to the threats of legal action, the crosses had been on the building for decades, according to the Herald Star. An anonymous complaint was made to the foundation and that led the foundation to become involved.

Now the same crosses that were taken down, have reappeared. One cross is Latin and the other Eastern Orthodox. They’re displaying just off to the side of the entrance of the building. In Early April, the mayor told the Herald Star that he’s allowed to put the crosses back up during holidays and also noted that the foundation hasn’t kept in contact with the village following the legal threat back in January. He plans to keep the crosses up until the end of April.

However, the foundation notes that religious displays of any kind on public buildings can violate the First Amendment. They noted that the time of year does not make the act any less unconstitutional. In a letter to the village dated April 8, staff lawyer Rebecca Markert wrote, “The display of these crosses is illegal because it represents government endorsement of the Christian religion.”

So far, the foundation says they’ve received no response from the village to their letter.