If you read the Democrat today, you saw a front page article, with pictures, about a display on the Bluffs that might be unconstitutional.
Virginia O'Beirne, on behalf of Pro Life Natchez Adams County, went before the Mayor and Board of Aldermen on November 28 to request permission to arrange a temporary display on the bluffs to commemorate the anniversary of the Supreme Court Decision of Roe v Wade. The Board voted to take the matter under advisement and allow the City Attorney to research the matter.
At its Tuesday meeting, the Board voted to allow the display. When questioned after the meeting, the City Attorney felt the Board could not deny the request because the City did not have an ordinance regarding displays on the bluff. He added that he had been requested to draw up a ordinance for the Board to adopt. (Wouldn't it be nice if the Board asks for public opinion prior to adopting it?)
If the display had been as it was described by Ms O'Beirne, there likely would not have been a problem. She simply said there would be 4000 pink and blue flags. When asked by Alderman Pollard to describe the display, she again said there would be 4000 flags, taking up about 63 square feet, with a small sign explaining the display. I was there, and at no time did Ms O'Beirne mention that words and pictures would be on the flags. In fact, she said her group chose to have the display on public property so no denominational statement would be made. (You can read the Minutes of the Board meeting here.) .
I was pretty shocked to read the paper today and find that the flags were not blank, as I imagined. The blue flags have a cross and say "Jesus Forgives". Now we have a problem! The First Amendment of the US Constitution provides for separation of church and state, and there have been several Supreme Court rulings about religious displays on public property.
The Democrat must think it's a problem also, since their readers' poll today said: "Is the anti-abortion exhibit on the bluff appropriate for public land?" At this time, the No's have a slight lead over the Yes's, with 180 people voting. Since this community is probably predominantly pro life, those results tell me that religious freedom and the First Amendment are more important.