Don’t Display Courthouse Cross, AU Tells W. VA. County

Local government officials in Mineral County, W. Va., agreed not to display a large cross on the lawn of the courthouse after receiving a letter from Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

 The officials had originally agreed in February to allow Keyser Presbyterian Church to erect an Easter display consisting of a seven-foot cross on the lawn for three days. Responding to a complaint from a local resident, AU told the Mineral County Commission that the proposed display would violate the Constitution and court rulings.

“The government may publicly display a religious symbol only if it is part of a larger display with secular elements that, when viewed as a whole, convert the display’s message from a religious to a secular one,” wrote AU’s attorneys.

Commission President Janice LaRue subsequently revoked permission for the display. LaRue told the Cumberland, Md., Times News that she had checked with attorneys affiliated with TV preacher Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice, who told her the display would not survive court scrutiny.

“Given this information, we cannot place this potential liability on county residents,” LaRue said.