Christmas Tree Cross Sparks Lawsuit Against Town


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has recently filed a lawsuit against the town of Knightstown for displaying a cross on the top of their Christmas tree display, after one resident complained.

The ACLU, who represents Joseph Tompkins, alleges that the Latin cross “is the preeminent symbol of Christianity, representing the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus.” The suit claims that if the symbol is religious, it has no business on town property.

The suit filed claims that Tompkins “is forced to come into direct and unwelcome contact” with the cross on top of the tree, causing him “irreparable harm.” They insist that the cross be taken down and monetary damages be paid out to Tompkins.

“It’s just hard to believe,” stated residents who were not in favor of changing the display. Other disgruntled residents went on to say, “I think it’s kind of ridiculous.”

Kevin Richey another Knightstown resident said, “You gotta sit down and talk about it before you file the lawsuits,” wishing Tompkins would have worked it out before filing a lawsuit.

One of Joe’s relatives, Mark Tompkins, came out stating on CBS4, “A couple weeks ago they had a crowd here. Everybody was here. Everybody was fine with it. But now you’ve got one person, you know, out of everybody.” He doesn’t believe that his relative is hurting in any way as a result of the display. “There’s a church on every corner. Is he offended by all the crosses?” he said.

According to Joe the First Amendment is the issue and not necessarily his being offended. He went on to mention that the amendment prevents the establishment of religion in government displays, which he believes Knightstown has violated.

In the lawsuit filed, it mentions that Joe doesn’t want his taxes going towards these kind of displays.

Lau Ghioc, another town resident who runs a hardware store next to the towns square, had this to say concerning Joe’s remarks, “I think we can find people in this town that can replace that 0.0004 cents to give to him and not have to worry about it.”

According to everyone who spoke to CBS4, they want the town to fight the lawsuit against the display. Mark states, “He can take it down and I tell you what, I’ll park this car here until Christmas Day with three crosses on it.”

Residents Patricia Hutson and husband plan to show support for the town tree by giving out crosses on Saturday near the display in question to anyone that would like them.

CBS4 is waiting on a response from Knightstown officials regarding the suit’s demand for the cross to be removed and monetary damages paid out.

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