VERIFY: Is a DC group pressuring an Oklahoma chapel to remove the Cross?

WUSA9 verifies if a DC group is pressuring an Oklahoma chapel to remove the Cross.

WASHINGTON (WUSA) - QUESTION:

Is a DC nonprofit pressuring an Oklahoma school to remove the Cross?

ANSWER:

Yes, but they say it's to boost religious inclusively. 

SOURCES:

Ian Smith, Attorney- Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Brian Johnson, Public Relations Manager- East Central University, Ada, Oklahoma

East Central University Press Releases 

Randall Christy- Founder The Gospel Station Network & Pastor for Union Valley Baptist Church

Terri Watkins, Director of Communications- Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter

Holly Meade- Director of Communications- Liberty Counsel

PROCESS:

The Gospel Station Network created a Facebook Live that was shared more than 100,000 times.

Randall Christy, founder of the Christian radio and television broadcast, pointed his cell phone at a 60 year old white chapel that sits as a historic landmark on East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. He says the chapel's iconic Cross and the bible and altar within the space, are under attack. 

Christy explains that a DC legal nonprofit called Americans United for Separation of Church and State issued a letter to the university president asking her to remove the Cross atop the chapel.

Attorney Ian Smith, confirmed that he authored a letter to President Katricia Pierson saying that a cross on a state campus violates the Constitution, which explicitly bars the government from favoring one religion over another. 
 
"For the government to display a Christian Cross that it owns on Government property, is unconstitutional, it's an endorsement of Christianity, it allies the government with a particular religion in a way that violates the Establishment Clause," Smith said. "If it removes the iconography, which is all we're asking for, it then becomes a space that all students can use for religious worship as they see fit...that increases religious freedom for all students."
 
Pierson said the administration was looking to remove the cross, but reconsidered after Ada, Oklahoma locals flocked to the chapel in opposition. 
 
Christy, a pastor in Oklahoma and a East Central alum, led the opposition by organizing a rally, sponsoring a petition and holding events where children paint crosses. 
 

 
"The Cross is being portrayed by Americans United as an exclusive symbol that pushes people away and that's the way their describing it and that I believe is a lack of understanding of what the Cross really means," Christy said over Skype. "The Cross is very inclusive--Jesus said, 'Whosoever will,' and what he meant when he said whosoever he meant everybody of every race, every walk of life, every lifestyle, every body. All means all."
 
Oklahoma State's Attorney Mike Hunter is taking on the issue for the university, because in a primarily Christian town, they say the Chapel at East Central University may become a precedent. 
 
"Hunter says, he believes the letter from a special interest group regarding the chapel is an implicit threat to take legal action and should be directed to the Attorney General as the State's chief legal officer," The State's Attorney Office wrote in a press release. 
 

 
There's no news as to whether Americans United will propel this case to court. If it does, a DC Christian ministry offered East Central University legal counsel pro-bono.
 
We can Verify that a Washington nonprofit is calling for a non-denominational campus chapel to take down their cross. 
 

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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