The Freedom From Religion Foundation is once again calling out an Ohio town for the constitutional violation of putting Christian crosses on public property.
FFRF, a state-church watchdog based in Madison, Wis., complained April 8 in a letter to village of Stratton attorney Frank Bruzzese about crosses on the Municipal Building.
FFRF, which has 20,000 nationwide members and about 560 in Ohio, successfully got the village to earlier remove crosses from the building and the water tower, but had to threaten to sue to accomplish that.
Mayor John Abdalla recently ordered crosses to be put back on the Municipal Building, which has happened, according to a photo and story in the Steubenville Herald-Star and a local complainant.
In FFRF's April 8 letter, Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert cited legal precedent and took on Abdalla's false claim that it was constitutional to display religious imagery during holidays such as Easter: "While the permanent display of these crosses by the village is indisputably unconstitutional, the seasonal display of the crosses in recognition of Easter, the Christian celebration of Jesus' resurrection, is no less illegal."
FFRF wants immediate removal of the crosses from the front of the building and for village officials to "be reminded of their constitutional obligation to remain neutral toward religion."
Stratton, an Ohio River town with a population of about 300, already has its name on one U.S. Supreme Court case, Watchtower Society v. Village of Stratton. In 2002, the court ruled 8-1 that the village couldn't make door-to-door canvassers or solicitors get a permit. The ruling applied to religious proselytizing, anonymous political speech and handbill distribution.