Snow plows in Sioux Falls, South Dakota will be keeping their explicitly Christian theme, WRAL reports.
Mayor Mike Huether said that “unless…I get some Supreme Court case that says I have to” remove the explicitly religious messages that are painted on the city’s snow plows, he would not remove them.
The messages were painted by students at Lutheran High School and Sioux Falls Lutheran School. One of them contains the words “Jesus Christ” painted in the style of the Coca-Cola label, with the biblical quotation, “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.”
The other simply says, “Happy Birthday, Jesus.”
Staff at Paint the Plow, the organization responsible for decorating the plows, said that “[w]e have never received a complaint until this year, and this is the fifth year of the program. This year we received an informal complaint from the Siouxland Freethinkers, and it is normal policy to inform the group that created the artwork of the complaint.”
However, the group noted that it is “too late” to paint over the plows before they will be compelled into service, and that therefore the explicitly Christian messages must stay.
The head of the ACLU of South Dakota, Heather Smith, said that “when the speech is displayed on public equipment that will be in use and could be viewed by the public as a state-sponsored message, the speech then becomes problematic.”
But the assistant principal at Sioux Falls Lutheran, Sarah Sailer, insisted that the issue wasn’t free speech, but imminent snowfall. “Right now, we just don’t have the time” to repaint them, she said.