Clarence Reinders, a Life Member of the Foundation, was principal plaintiff in the lawsuit by the Freedom From Religion Foundation challenging a shrine to Jesus in a public park in Marshfield, Wisconsin. The city responded to the lawsuit by selling the land under the statue to a group formed to "save" it. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the Foundation's favor, ordering the erection of disclaimers and a fence to differentiate the shrine from the rest of the park.
I must admit that I was somewhat disappointed that we were unsuccessful in removing the religious idol from the public park.
However, the more I look at the accompanying picture the more I am convinced that this was the best possible outcome of our efforts.
The Praschak Memorial Group could have moved the idol to another location and the City of Marshfield could have saved itself $60,060.00 of our legal expenses plus other expenses, like the cost of the erection of the fence and the two large disclaimer signs, and that would have been the end of it. Case closed. In a short time nearly everyone would have forgotten all about it.
But now our successful defense of the First Amendment will be long immortalized. We have encaged behind an iron fence for all to see the central figure of a major religion. There are two huge disclaimer signs stating affirmatively the principle of separation of church and state. And this will be ongoing into the distant future.
Whenever anyone looks at the idol in its newly-imprisoned setting he/she will see the fruits of our labors in defense of the First Amendment. With the fence and disclaimer signs we have left our freethought mark of state/church separation for posterity.
The idol cannot now be viewed except through our American secular lens, driving home daily to the viewers their true First Amendment rights. The religious shrine will now be viewed, surrounded and sanitarily confined, by a memorial to the First Amendment.
We done good.