FFRF protests again after crosses go back up in Arkansas

Crosses displayed at the Craighead County Tax Assessor’s office in photos taken by FFRF’s complainant.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has sent a second letter to the Craighead (Ark.) County assessor after learning that a large display of crosses was reinstalled. The crosses had been removed pursuant to an FFRF complaint in November.

FFRF’s local complainant reported that the recreated display was nearly identical to the previous one. The crosses are in public view. One is inscribed with a bible verse, John 3:16, and adds at its base, “He loves. He gave. We believe. We live.”

On Nov. 23, the Craighead County Quorum Court, the county’s government body, passed a resolution indicating support for the display, stating “public service employees do not forfeit their constitutional rights by working in a public office.”

FFRF Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert wrote the second letter to assessor Hannah Towell on Dec. 3 refuting the notion that the crosses are permissible as employees’ free speech.

“When the government is an employer, it surely has an interest in regulating the speech of its employees while they are acting within their government role,” she said. In addition, the “government has a greater interest in controlling what materials are posted on its property than it does in controlling the speech of the people who work for it,” Markert wrote, citing a federal appellate court decision.

“This elaborate display of multiple crosses with multiple religious messages and biblical verses certainly gives an impression of the County’s endorsement of Christianity,” said Markert. “The Quorum Court’s resolution also furthers that impression of endorsement.” The letter demands that the county remove the display immediately.

FFRF is a nonprofit state/church watchdog with about 23,000 members nationwide, including members in Arkansas.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

Send this to a friend