KNIGHTSTOWN, Ind. (WTHR) – Many Knightstown residents insist they are not about to let Grinch steal Christmas.
A federal lawsuit led the town to take a cross from atop their Christmas tree. Now, crosses are appearing in businesses, neighborhoods and places they’ve never been seen before.
On Tuesday night, a couple of pick-up trucks with homemade crosses standing in their beds drove around the town square. A small group of people held up smaller crosses to passing traffic. Several drivers sounded their horns in support.
The town’s Christmas lighted tree stood above them all without a cross. When one resident sued the town, the council took it down.
Patricia Hutson was one of many disappointed residents.
“It makes me sad we can’t express our opinion of what we want Christmas decorations to be,” she said.
Hutson and friends started making crosses and giving them away – almost 600 so far.
Bill Windson grabbed four for him and a neighbor.
“It looks like the law protects the minority instead of the majority,” he said.
Tarrenn Cruz just moved to town and took two crosses.
“It’s saying we are not going to back down and we have just as much right to our freedom as anyone else does,” he said.
Most of the crosses, people say, were put up right after the town’s cross came down.
Roxanna Zimmerman sat with her husband in their pickup with lighted crosses he quickly assembled.
“I don’t think one person should have been able to cause grief about it,” Zimmerman said.
For decades, federal court opinions have found religious displays on public property are unconstitutional. Joseph Tompkins, the resident who filed the lawsuit, told Eyewitness News that he’s not out to kill Christmas. He said he believed the cross sent a message that Knightstown wasn’t inclusive of people with other religious faiths or no faith.
He says he’s been harassed and hassled. On Monday night, a small crowd stood across the street from his home, holding crosses and singing.
Some residents say the controversy over crosses is uniting the community, the way the imaginary town of Whoville reacted to the Grinch.
“Well, he tried to steal Christmas, and he couldn’t do it,” Hutson said with small smile.
Tompkins expects the town council will take up the issue later this week. If there is a permanent prohibition against religious displays, he says he will drop the lawsuit.