Port Neches cross a community decision

Published 8:21 am Monday, November 30, 2015

In the Friday, Nov. 13, edition of The Port Arthur News, news writer Mary Meaux reported on the city of Port Neches coming under fire over the cross that currently stands at Riverfront Park in Port Neches. In the story, it was reported that the city of Port Neches received a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation stating, “The government’s permanent display of a Latin cross on public land is unconstitutional.” It further reports that FFRF’s purpose is to protect the constitutional of separation between state and church.

The latter of the two is strongly hypocritical as I never seem to hear about this group when religion or church crosses over into politics. Or maybe they just become interested when someone becomes chapped over an issue. Which seems to be a common trend these days.

By doing a little research on this group, the first thing I noticed was that they don’t even have a chapter in the entire state of Texas. They may have over 1,000 members across the state but with a Texas population of nearly 27 million this group shouldn’t have that kind of power over what we do here.

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Ultimately, the letter is a strong-arm tactic used by attorneys to get their way. The attorney for FFRF, Rebecca Market, spouts a 1995 case and other items to support its cause but to me it’s neither here nor there, as we all have rights. And you can’t put one group’s rights over another. Although this is what they are claiming as well, by doing so completely disregards other group’s rights and places the focus solely upon their own agenda.

FFRF claims legal successes in removing a Ten Commandments monument, crosses and other statues from public lands. They also claim success in halting prayer at public schools, public financing of nativity pageants and Easter services. I’d be interested to know if these folks celebrate Christmas.

OK, but what about the rights of Christians? The First Amendment states that freedom of religion or freedom of belief is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual of a community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance. It also states that freedom of religion is considered by many people and nations to be a fundamental human right in a country with state religion. Freedom of religion is generally considered to mean that the government permits religious practices of other sects besides the state religion, and does not persecute believers in other faiths. Apparently when pushing a cause, groups tend to forget the other side of things.

If there is not a HUGE uproar locally in support of removing the cross, then I say leave it alone. If this group, not of this area, continues to push, I say push back. Or put up an atheist symbol on the other end of the park. We, at The Port Arthur News, support the City of Port Neches in its right to do what is right for its community as this is a community decision.

Rich Macke is publisher of The Port Arthur News. Contact him at rich.macke@panews.com.