Knightstown, Indiana is a bucolic little village of just over 2,100 folks, proudly situated in Middle America. It is where the iconic movie “Hoosiers” was made, the movie itself chronicling the remarkable story of the Milan Indians, another small Indiana town’s basketball team that somehow overcame all odds to win the state’s high school basketball championship in 1954.
At first glance, Knightstown would seem an unlikely place to be the victim of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit, but that is precisely the case. The ACLU filed a suit demanding that the town remove a lighted cross from atop its annual Christmas tree. The suit was filed on behalf of Knightstown resident Joseph Tompkins, who was appalled at being “forced to come into unwelcome contact” with the display, which, he said, caused him “irreparable harm.” Tompkins also stated in the suit that he didn’t want his tax dollars used to light and maintain the cross. (I’m guessing he’s good with his tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood. And, when one considers the number of tax payers in town- or the county, etc.- against the cost of lighting one small cross for a few weeks, he’s actually saying he doesn’t want his tax cent(s) used in that manner. But, it’s the principle of the thing, I know).
The town council issued the following statement: “It is with regret and sadness that the Knightstown Town Council has had the cross removed from the Christmas tree on the town square and is expected to approve a resolution at the next council meeting stating they will not return the cross to the tree.” The council’s decision was based on advice from its legal counsel and the concern over finances should it lose in court, according to a local Fox television station. After all, tiny Knightstown certainly would be no match for the ACLU of Indiana.
But then, dozens of townsfolk gathered at the display to pray. Residents started putting up crosses all around the town. The council voted to table the resolution. It hopes to negotiate with the ACLU to come to another decision.
There is a tough road ahead for little Knightstown. The fight against the ACLU will be a difficult one. Let’s hope they channel the will and pluck of the ’54 Milan Indians, and emerge victorious as champions of sanity and light.
P.S.- I wrote the above piece a week ago and hadn’t published it yet. It is a fitting story to post on Christmas Day, especially now that the cross is back on the Knightstown tree! After lengthy negotiations with the ACLU, the town was, at least temporarily, “allowed” to return the cross to the tree, if it wasn’t placed at the top and would not be its most prominent feature. However, Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana, noted that the display will be re-evaluated and further legal action will be taken if it is deemed unconstitutional. On this Christmas morning we’ll take this small victory as a ray of hope, though the struggle for Christians will be a long and arduous one.
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