A group of atheists are trying to push around a small Kentucky town. However, cheered on by The Rev. Franklin Graham, the town of Wilmore, Ky., is not planning to budge.
“These anti-god activists are trying to get their way against the will of the people. Let’s pray that they get nowhere!” Graham recently wrote on Facebook, praising Wilmore residents for “standing their ground.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) of Madison, Wisc., have asked Wilmore officials to remove a cross from the local water tower. The cross is owned by the city, but sits on lands owned by Asbury University, a private, Christian school.
“The Wilmore cross, displayed on the city water tower, unabashedly creates the perception of government endorsement of Christianity,” said an emailed letter from the FFRF. “It conveys the message to the nearly 30 percent of the U.S. population who are not Christians that they are not ‘favored members of the political community.’”
Wilmore Mayor Harold Rainwater has no plans to heed FFRF’s demands.
“There’s a groundswell of support to keep [the cross] and I’m certainly going to fight to keep it with everything I’ve got,” Rainwater said. “I think it’s symbolic of our town. I 100-percent support keeping it there. We won’t take it down unless we’re forced to take it down.”
“In nearly 40 years, no one has ever complained about this cross except this group from Madison,” said Rainwater. “It means a lot to us. It’s important to our town. There’s nothing that’s drawn our town together more than the possibility of losing this cross.”
Wilmore took over the tower from the college in 1976. The transfer required that the cross be kept in place. The college pays the electric bill for the cross, with no cost to Wilmore, Rainwater said.
“When [the cross] was put there, Wilmore was called ‘the town under the cross.’ I think ‘the town under the cross’ is symbolic of Wilmore,” he said.
“They may make us pay money to take it down…but I believe the university will actually raise it up higher,” he said. “They don’t want to do that and it’s silly to have to do that, but that’s where we’re at.”
Rainwater said that so far all he has received from the anti-religion group is an emailed letter.
“To be honest with you, I look at an email as spam. That is not the way you contact someone in a legal position,” he said. “I don’t underestimate the reach of well-funded liberal agendas. When I get a subpoena or I get served, then I know I have to respond…but I’m not going to take a cross down because of an email.”
“I’m not going to reply to an email,” Rainwater emphasized. “I’m not going to respond to a leftist, liberal foundation that wants to tell me in Wilmore what is appropriate.”