Sioux Falls, South Dakota, will not be painting over snowplows that displays the words “Jesus Christ” and a Biblical passage. Another says, “Happy Birthday, Jesus.”
The plows in question were painted as part of the annual Paint the Plow event, in which school kids are invited to lend an artistic flair to the city’s plows.
“We are not going to be painting over those plows; those plow blades,” Sioux Falls Mayor Mark Huether said in a radio interview, according to the Argus Leader. “Unless, I guess, I get some Supreme Court case (that) says that I have to.”
The declaration overrules a decision by the Paint the Plow staff that the students would have to take another crack at their plows of choice.
“Snowplows are used to provide safe travel to driving public during snow and ice events, and it is our priority in the winter months to ensure safe travel throughout our city. The Paint the Plows program was created to display the artistic talents of local school children.
We have never received a complaint until this year, and this is the fifth year of the program. This year we received an informal complaint from the Siouxland Freethinkers, and it is normal policy to inform the group that created the artwork of the complaint.
The City had a discussion with the two schools involved regarding whether they wanted to create different artwork. We found out yesterday that they didn’t feel there was enough time to redo the artwork.
This discussion is ongoing, and no final decisions have been made regarding repainting the plows, as we are working toward an amicable resolution with both parties.
We take guidance from rulings of the courts, but the federal appeals courts across the country have issued many, many opinions and not all the courts rule in the same fashion when there are similar facts about religious themes on government property.
These snowplows are important pieces of equipment. Therefore, we expedited the dialogue to resolve the matter before the plows were put into use for winter. The City respects the various views and is evaluating procedures and guidelines for the Paint the Plows program going forward.”
“I know it was really hard take, especially (for) those students who worked on that plow and had a hard time understanding why,” the principal of the Lutheran school said.
(h/t: Ken Paulman)