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Oklahoma College Faces Demand to Remove Cross From Its Chapel

An Oklahoma university that was at first going to accede to a demand to remove all traces of religion from the campus chapel, including the cross on its steeple, has put a stop to the decision.

East Central University found itself in the center of controversy after it received a letter demanding that all Christian symbols be removed from the college’s 60-year-old chapel.

The letter from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State claimed the college was in violation of the law.

“We have received a complaint that East Central University’s Kathryn P. Boswell Memorial Chapel has permanent religious iconography on display,” the letter said. “These displays include Latin crosses on the top of and inside the building, Bibles, and a Christian altar. While it is legal for a public university to have a space that can be used by students for religious worship so long as that space is not dedicated solely to that purpose, it is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to display religious iconography on government property. Please remove or cover the religious displays and items.”

The college at first announced it would comply. But as that decision became public, it changed course.

“We moved too quickly,” said Katricia Pierson, the college’s president. “We regret not taking time to pause and thoughtfully consider the request and the results of our actions on all of the students, faculty and community members who we serve.”

Pierson said some items were removed from the chapel, which is used for student clubs and events and is shared by several religious groups.

“ECU will not take further action, either by putting back the removed items, or by removing further artifacts, including the cross on the steeple” until the college reaches its final decision.

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State expects compliance despite the delay.

“Ultimately, we expect them to come to the same decision since the law is squarely on our side,” said spokesman Ian Smith.

Not everyone agrees.

Randall Christy, founder of the Gospel Station Network in Ada, said “it’s time for Christian people to take a stand for our history and heritage.”

“I encourage Christians to immediately make your voices heard on this matter. ECU administration is not the enemy here. It’s outside forces at work to force this action upon our local university.” Christy said.

He later said it “just boggles my mind that people are able wield this kind of power into someone else’s local community.”

Ada resident Destin Wilkerson said he did not understand the Washington group’s thinking.

“Sent chills up my body,” he said. “Who in their right mind would wanna have a cross taken down that’s been there for, you know, 60 years?”