McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local News

August 21, 2012

Protest against the removal of crosses from city signs gains momentum

McALESTER — Several McAlester organizations say they are backing a move to ask the city of McAlester to reverse a decision to remove street sign silhouettes because they depict a cross.

The  groups include churches and a veterans’ organization, and representatives say they plan to attend the Aug. 28 McAlester City Council meeting. That’s when a member of Gaines Creek Association of Freewill Baptist Churches intends to present a resolution asking the council to reverse City Manager Pete Stasiak’s decision to remove the silhouettes.

The silhouettes were placed by the city and paid for by McAlester resident Bob Wallace.
City Manager Pete Stasiak has said he had the silhouettes removed after he received a complaint and after checking with city attorney Joe Ervin. Stasiak said Ervin told him the silhouettes are be a conflict of church and state. 
Last week, James Prince, chairman of the Gaines Creek Association of Free Will Baptists, said he plans to present his group’s resolution at the next council meeting asking the council to reverse its decision to remove street sign silhouettes with soldiers kneeling before a cross.
Monday, members of Faith Fellowship Church in McAlester and Lord’s Calvary Church in Krebs began circulating a petition and have gained more than 1,000 signatures, according to Carolyn McNatt, organizer of the petition drive. 
“It was on our heart to do something,” she said.
 Stasiak he did not recall who made the initial complaint to remove the silhouettes.
At least one city councilman said he plans to present his own thoughts on the issue during the meeting.
“I have not presently formed an opinion on this issue,” Ward 6 Sam Mason said Tuesday. “At the next meeting, I will lay out the facts and act accordingly.” 
Meanwhile, Ward 2 Councilman John Titsworth said he’s made his decision.
“I am in favor of them (the silhouettes) remaining on the signs,” Titsworth said Tuesday.

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