Officials in a Missouri town have decided to cover up a Christian symbol on a war memorial that honors the lives of two soldiers killed during the Gulf War after a church-state separatist group threatened to take legal action, calling the presence of a so-called “Jesus fish” a constitutional violation.
The symbol, which is known as an “ichthus,” has been on the monument since it was installed at Courthouse Plaza in Columbia, Missouri, in 1992 to honor Navy Lt. Patrick Connor and Army Reserve Spc. Steven Farnen — soldiers who were killed in action, according to the Associated Press.
After Americans United for Separation of Church and State reportedly threatened legal action earlier this year, the Boone County Commission voted that it would be most prudent to cover up the symbol, ensuring that the public monument would be solely secular in nature.
A plaque that reads “Dedicated 1992″ is now covering up the previously viewable Jesus fish.
The activist group is now content with the decision, though Connor’s parents are not. After being informed of officials’ cover up of the ichthus, Marsha Connor told the Columbia Daily Tribune that the move dishonors the fallen.
“The fish symbol was in recognition of their personal faith. This is not an attempt to establish a governmental religion,” she wrote in an email to the outlet. “The action changing the memorial is an affront to the beliefs upon which the United States was founded. … Action taken by elected officials spending government funds dishonoring a veterans memorial is questionable.”
Architect Peter Scavone, a former Boone County resident who fundraised to put the monument up 22 years ago, told the Tribune that he believes county officials “desecrated” the memorial by covering up the religious symbol.