By Victoria McClary, Staff Writer
Since September, the city of Wilmore has been under scrutiny from the Wisconsin based Freedom From Religion Foundation because of the cross on the City of Wilmore’s water tower. Mayor Harold Rainwater first received a letter from the FFRF back in September. Since then, the Foundation has sent more letters and the Asbury Student Body sent their own response to the FFRF in early December.
The city of Wilmore received a more recent letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) on Jan. 13. The Foundation sent this letter to the city via email and through the postal service according to a statement found on the Foundation’s website regarding the issue.
The FFRF is rejecting the response of the city which stated that Asbury University takes care of the upkeep and lighting of the cross.
Legal fellow within the FFRF Ryan Jayne stated in his letter to the city, “FFRF has argued that the city is prohibited from maintaining a Latin cross over the city’s water tower. You implied that the city’s agreement with Asbury College changes this conclusion because the college allegedly owns the cross and because of the city’s contractual requirements related to the water tower.”
In 1976, the University drew up a contract which maintained that the University would provide for the care and upkeep of the cross on the water tower since it remains on University property, but that the water tower itself would technically be under ownership of the city.
Jayne argues that having a symbol such as the cross on top of the water tower endorses Christianity. The Jessamine Journal reports that Jayne stated in his letter from Jan. 13, “the cross atop Wilmore’s water tower endorses Christianity. Any reasonable observer, aware of the city’s agreement with Asbury College, would understand that the city has lent its support to this religious promotion.”
Wilmore’s city attorney, Robert Gullette III is still considering the options for the city. The city could go to court over the issue, but according to the Jessamine Journal and Gullette, “if it [the city] would lose a potential lawsuit, the city would be “financially incentivized” to remove the cross from government property before the lawsuit is filed, in order to avoid paying FFRF’s legal fees.”