City leaders agree to remove ‘praying soldier’ statue from veterans memorial

Jan 13, 2015

By WRAL

Leaders in the Stokes County city of King voted 3-2 Tuesday to remove a statue of a praying soldier at a local park, saying the cost of fighting a federal lawsuit would “greatly exceed” the city’s insurance policy limits.

“The decision to settle this case has been very difficult for the King City Council,” the city said in a statement.

The moves comes after a two-year legal battle between the city and Steven Hewett, a former police officer and U.S. Army veteran who claimed the city promoted Christianity at a veteran’s memorial that is situated in King’s Central Park.

The city removed a Christian flag from the memorial in 2010 but refused to remove the statue, which depicts a soldier kneeling at a cross.


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21 comments on “City leaders agree to remove ‘praying soldier’ statue from veterans memorial

  • But wait, there’s more! Folks gather to kneel where the metal object in question was removed.

    Opponent of decision says it was not religious in nature, vs proponent claiming in lawsuit that it is religious (Christian) and further, non-Christians are treated as second-class citizens (ouch).

    Yet, seems analogous to the Grinch, and Whoville, who gathered holding hands where the xmas tree stood.



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  • He described the city council members as good men who basically had
    their hands tied by law firms and insurance companies.

    I find myself, oddly, on side with Calloway, the sculptor, and the “He” above in this. The soldier does not appear to be praying, particularly, no hands together, eyes skyward, and so what if he was, it is not actually illegal.

    Yes, a cross is a common grave marker, especially at the period of the soldiers uniform. It is hard to tell, but it looks like a period uniform, and the weapon is certainly not current.

    This whole thing strikes me as picayune, and goes to prove what? If somewhat thinks atheists get a rough trot from King City Council, this will not make it better.

    I suppose next he can start demanding the removal of anything that upsets him, all the way to bulldozing Notre Dame cathedral.

    Better to leave all this cross rubbish to atrophy as people realise the silliness involved, without the threat of a law suit that will alienate the community further.



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  • 4
    ShinobiYaka says:

    Protracted and costly litigation”

    The simple fact of the matter is, that most servicemen and women, who gave their lives in war were at least nominally religious, the debate for them has been over for some considerable time, as a lifelong atheist, if given the opportunity, I would pray with them (and be sincere), if such things give comfort in the final hours, then out of respect for the memory of that individual, deference is owed in relation to belief.

    How many last rites were performed at the beaches of Normandy? Anyone who has taken a walk in the war cemeteries of Europe cannot help but be moved by the religious designations on the almost uncountable grave markers, are we then, as an intellectual movement to deny them this?



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  • are we then, as an intellectual movement to deny them this?

    Well said, and of course not. Neither I, nor anyone else, has the right to impose their beliefs on others. Something I cannot resist pointing out the worlds religions would do well to heed.

    The moment we do attempt to impose our (lack of) beliefs, we lose the right to claim to be an intellectual movement.



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  • From what I can see from the picture, there is a monument in place already where people of all religions or none can pay their respects. There didn’t therefore need to be a second one, particularly one of a religious nature, so I think it was perfectly reasonable for it to be removed, particularly as it seemed to be favouring Christianity (the cross I think gives it away!). I’m sure that given recent events in France, had it been a monument favouring Islam, the Christians would have been alongside the Atheists demanding it’s removal!



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  • I didn’t see any suggestion in the article that religious designations on grave markers should be removed, and I don’t think that there will ever be an intellectual movement to take these off graves and replace them with a generic secular marker!
    However monuments are completely different. They are there for peoples of all faiths or none to pay their respects to those who religious or not gave their lives for their country and should not favour any one religion.



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  • cremation

    Or, eco-pods.

    [ ] waste of land

    Used to feel the same way, until I noticed they’re an oasis for wildlife amongst urban sprawl. Excellent places to take walks-once saw a family of foxes lounging betwixt the graves and tree corridor.



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  • I’m trying to organise donation of my body to science, at least for surgery/plastic surgery practice. The leftover scraps would be ideal for “Succulent Soylent” pet food to be given free to little old ladies to help lower the eco profile of their very deserved and necessary pets. I am meeting a little resistance on this one, though…



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  • It was built on public land using public money though, and it seems that those responsible were trying to promote one particular religion. From the complaint:

    When the City built a Veterans’ Memorial in the City’s Central Park, it included a Christian flag; no other religions were represented in the Memorial. When Mr. Hewett objected, the City Manager warned that Mr. Hewett would “answer to God and Jesus Christ”; the Mayor stated—at a City Council meeting, no less—that Mr. Hewett “needs us to pray for him.”



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  • Yes, saying that a Jew's tax money (for instance) shouldn't be used to promote someone else's god while excluding Jewish soldiers and veterans is exactly the same as banning all free speech on public land.

    Slightly edited by moderator to bring within Terms of Use. Keep things civil, please.



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  • Most soldiers might be religious, but many are not. And you seem to think that religious means Christian, but there are many religions represented in out armed forces, and excluding them in a public monument is not an option.



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  • The government doesn’t have free speech, the people do. And people are free to pay for and erect monuments on their own land. They are not free to use all of our money (public money) to promote their religion.



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  • Yes a cross is a common grave marker on a CHRISTIAN grave. The government can not play favorites. How well do you think this would have gone over with a Star of David or a Muslim crescent moon in the crosses place?



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