A Christian group is accusing the U.S. Secret Service of religious discrimination and censorship for issuing a memo that bans Christian crosses from the presidential inauguration parade later this month.
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Christian Defense Coalition, contends the Secret Service has "trampled the First Amendment and crushed religious freedom in the public square."
"Simply put, it is religious bigotry and censorship," he said. "It is even more troubling when one realizes that it is only Christian symbols that have been excluded from the inauguration parade."
Confused? I was. Read on:
Tom Mazur, spokesman for the Secret Service, told WorldNetDaily the prohibition is simply a security matter that has nothing to do with the religious nature of the cross.
"The reference to the cross is strictly in regard to structure, certainly not the symbol," he said. "There is no prohibition based on content, only structure or materials that could be used in a potentially harmful or threatening manner."
The Secret Service memo says, in part:
With respect to signs and placards, the Secret Service would ask that these items be limited to items made of cardboard, poster board or cloth and have dimensions no greater than three feet in width, twenty feet in length and one-quarter inch thickness. As noted above, we are asking that supports for signs and placards be prohibited as these items may be used as a means of concealing weapons or as weapons themselves."
Additionally, the prohibition on structures includes props, folding chairs, bicycles, displays such as puppets papier mache objects, coffins, crates, crosses, theaters, cages and statues.
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