ROBERTS, Idaho — Officials in the southeast Idaho town of Roberts are violating the constitutional separation between church and state by displaying three lighted crosses on the water tower, a resident says.
Joe Cohea said the tower across the street from his home is city property and shouldn’t contain any religious symbols or displays.
“It might not only be offensive, but intimidating to some people,” Cohea told KIFI-TV. “There are Native American religions and Buddhists and Hindu that I know of here, and there’s also an individual that is Jewish.”
Robert “B.J.” Berlin, mayor of the town with 700 residents, said the city is not getting in the way of anyone’s religion and there’s nothing wrong with displaying the crosses.
“We understand not everyone’s a Christian, not everyone’s a God-fearing person and that’s fine,” said Berlin. “Government will not create any state religion and will not deter or get in the way of anybody’s religion. The City of Roberts abides by the Constitution.”
Cohea added that the lights contain various colors.
“Red, white and blue must mean that Christianity is equated with patriotism, I suppose,” he said.
Besides the three crosses, Cohea said the city also displays a Nativity scene at the city park during Christmas.
He said he’s contacted the American Civil Liberties Union, and he’s scheduled to talk to the city council next month.