ICC Note: The town of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma is facing legal trouble over a local water tower following a letter of complaint from the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF). The letter addressed a water tower which features the name of a local church who dedicated the land where the tower is located to the city. City council members have chosen not to take action in response to the letter of complaint and are now facing a lawsuit.
By David Norris
03/15/2016 United States (ABC Tulsa) – Take a ride down the Broken Arrow Expressway near Albany, and you’ll see it.
A city-owned water tower with a church-owned name.
It was part of a deal reached between the First Baptist Church Broken Arrow, and the City of Broken Arrow.
The church dedicated the land to the city, in return, the city painted the church’s name.
For years, the deal seemed to be working out fine.
Not anymore. After a citizen complaint about the sign, Andrew Seidel with the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the city, asking them to remove the sign.
“At some point, that name is going to have to come off the water tower,” said Seidel.
Now the city is facing a lawsuit from both the foundation and the citizen who complained.
“The water tower is in fact, government owned, and on government land. And as such, it can’t be advertising for any religion,” said Seidel.
Seidel said the sign is a clear violation of the First Amendment.
“The supreme court has spoken very clearly on this, and it has said the government can’t promote one religion or church over another, or religion over non religion,” said Seidel.