A Noah’s Ark-themed display that was part of a public playground in Delaware has been removed following threats from a church-state separatist group.
Officials in the city of Newark responded to a complaint from Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a First Amendment watchdog, subsequently removing the display from Norma B. Handloff Park; it included verses from biblical book of Genesis, the Christian Post reported.
The organization sent a complaint to the city October 16 after the Delaware Valley Americans United, one of its local chapters, was approached by atheist grandparents who complained over its presence.
As a result, Americans United for Separation of Church and State demanded the removal of the Noah’s Ark display based on the claim that its religious message was a violation of the establishment clause.
The Newark Post reported that Chuck Dyke, a local resident, is one of the grandparents who contacted the legal organization for assistance.
“The main thing that baffled me is that Newark is fairly progressive. To have a city park put something like that up seems so out of character,” he told the outlet. “How it happened is beyond me.”
The complaint sparked a city investigation, with officials consulting with the city solicitor and deciding that the religious display should be removed; it is no longer present in the park.
Delaware Valley Americans United recently praised the decision on its Facebook page, calling it, “Another [Americans United] victory in keeping government from promoting religion!”
And the parent organization also expressed its support for the removal.
“Nobody should have to choose between not going to a public playground or having their children exposed to religious messages,” said Alex Luchenitser, associate legal director for Americans United.
The city said that it is now considering whether it will donate the display to a religious organization, with spokesman Ricky Nietubicz claiming that officials aren’t sure why it was installed in the first place.
“It was pretty obvious Christian messaging,” he told the Newark Post. “We had no problem removing it.”
(H/T: Christian Post)
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