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Town removes cross from Christmas tree following lawsuit by resident

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KNIGHTSTOWN, Ind. - The cross on top of a town Christmas tree has been taken down following a lawsuit by the ACLU.

According to FOX 59, the ACLU filed a lawsuit last week against the town of Knightstown on behalf of a resident.

The suit alleges that the cross "is the preeminent symbol of Christianity, representing the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus."

Attorneys for the ACLU argue that if the display is religious, it does not belong on town property.

Records indicate that the resident, Joseph Tompkins, "is forced to come into direct and unwelcome contact" with the cross as he drives through town. Attorneys claim the display has caused him "irreparable harm" that can only be fixed by taking down the cross and paying him monetary damages.

The town council decided to take down the cross because they said they didn't think they could win the lawsuit or afford to pay for the legal fees.

"There was nothing we could do about it," Aaron Magee, who wanted the cross to remain in place, told FOX 59.  "The police didn’t want to take it down, the town workers didn’t want to take it down. They still took it down."

The town council issued the following statement:

"It is with regret and sadness that the Knightstown Town Council has had the cross removed from the Christmas tree on the town square and is expected to approve a resolution at the next council meeting stating they will not return the cross to the tree. We could not win the court case brought by the ACLU. We would have been required to pay the legal fees of the ACLU lawyer and monetary damage tot he plaintiff, Mr. Joseph Tompkins, as set by the Court. This is our statement based on advice from our legal counsel."