City officials agreed to remove the cross, but Ozark Mayor is fighting to keep it up.
Ozark city in Missouri has flouted United States law by keeping a noticeably big cross on public land. The cross has been crafted around a single utility pole, and the religious symbol is lit up during evenings. It is a clear violation of the U.S. constitution. The city officials realized this when they received a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and assured everyone that they would turn off the lights and do everything to take the structure down. The same was even conveyed to the media. The FFRF letter had pointed out that religious symbols like the cross cannot be installed on public land, and if done, makes for an unconstitutional move.
The problem started when a number of citizens expressed outrage over the removal. The protests escalated so much that Rick Gardner, the Mayor of Ozark, ordered the cross to remain where it was. Gardner, in his social media post, wrote an explanation of what prompted him to flout U.S. laws and warned city residents that the controversy regarding the lighted cross present in the park cannot be said to be over. He told them the city is now examining its options and asked residents to keep their fingers crossed.
The statements by the city authorities do not mean the cross will be permanently installed. It means Mayor Gardner is trying to gather as much time as possible to thrash out a solution with the city officials. In his media briefing, he told the audience that hundreds of city residents have sent him messages in favor of the cross being a permanent fixture in the park. To buttress his pro-cross credentials, he mentioned that Ozark is a Christian County. This is the literal truth as Ozark City is actually the seat or center of Christian County.
FFRF continues to hold steadfast on its position. Rebecca Markert, the legal director of FFRF, insisted on the expulsion of the Christian religious symbol from public land. She said it is immaterial how many people believe it is okay to have a religious structure on the public property and added that the reason America has religious diversity is the government is mostly free from religion.
For those who are curious what the OZARKS are actually like, the top news story today is an ongoing feud between the city government of Ozark, Missouri, its citizens and a private entity. The issue is keeping a cross up in a city park.
— Bry (@bry_leach) December 12, 2018
The mayor continued on to say the matter of a cross in the park could be a complex constitutional issue and cannot be solved simply through the “peoples' court” and admitted that Ozark city cannot bear the financial cost of a litigation.