Oldenburg Council Votes To Leave Memorial As Is; Atheist Resident Threatens Lawsuit

Posted On October 07, 2015

By Mike Perleberg


The Oldenburg Town Council has voted to leave the Oldenburg Veterans Memorial as it is, despite an atheist resident’s objections over its inclusion of a cross and “God”. Photo by Oldenburg’s Veteran’s Memorial – Keeping God with Duty, Honor, Country Facebook page.

(Oldenburg, Ind.) – A veterans memorial on town property in Oldenburg that features a cross and the word “God” will remain in place despite an atheist resident’s objections.

At least for now.

Last month, Oldenburg resident Steve Kristoff went to the Oldenburg Town Council to request that the town remove the cross and the reference to the creator from the three-year-old memorial on government property. Kristoff, who is an atheist, said the memorial is a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

On Monday, Oldenburg’s town council met again in an outdoor venue to handle the large number of attendees, many of whom wore yellow ribbons to show their unity. The three members voted unanimously to leave the memorial as it is, according to the Batesville Herald Tribune.

“The intention of the veterans memorial was to honor the men and women from this town who gave their time and lives …. a citizen expressed his concern, and we took his concerns,” said town councilman Greg Struewing.

However, the town council’s decision may not settle the matter. Kristoff told the town council he would be contacting attorneys to seek recourse.

“I believe what I’m doing is defending the Constitution,” he said before leaving the meeting, the newspaper reported.

State Rep. Cindy Ziemke (R-Batesville) was among a number of people who spoke at the town meeting. She said that she feels strongly that if a lawsuit does arise concerning the veterans memorial that there is an answer within the law that will allow it to remain. She asked that people should not treat Kristoff with scorn.

Kristoff was also the plaintiff in a recently dismissed federal lawsuit filed last year by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation and the ACLU of Indiana. The lawsuit alleged that the privately-owned Nativity scene placed on county government property on the Franklin County Courthouse lawn in Brookville also violated the Constitution.


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smartjwOctober 7th, 2015 at 4:36 am

So Kristoff is defending the Constitution? No, he apparently has too much time on his selfish hands. I bet he has no problem using the national currency which plainly has God mentioned on it. Kruschev, I mean Kristoff, should get over it..

jjgravelleOctober 7th, 2015 at 4:58 am

Leave it.
And follow Detroit’s lead by putting up a Baphomet statue right next to it.
I’m sure nobody’d have a problem with THAT free exercise of religion, right…?

RBAE76October 7th, 2015 at 5:05 am

If he wants “euqual representation in memorials”, let him raise the money to put one up.  Good luck with that.
I heard this guy is an instructor at Ivy Tech?  Wonder what kind of bias information he is spewing there to impressionable young minds?

sonofripleyOctober 7th, 2015 at 12:45 pm

jjgravelle  Cool picture but, the bible say’s that Satan, the great deceiver was the most  beautiful angle in heaven.  Maybe the kids think he looks good with the horns, since he is the great deceiver.  If the atheist would read the Bible they would know that, but, if they did read it they probably wouldn’t be atheist.  This guy should find himself an other hobby.  I don’t think he will get very far with the stiff-necked Catholic’s in Oldenburg.

Say NoOctober 8th, 2015 at 5:16 am

I support you, Kristoff!  That superstitious god and cross business has no reason to be allowed on taxpayer owned property.  This goes to show the more educated you are, the greater likelihood one has of abandoning these superstitious beliefs.  You people that need your religion inserted into every facet of life, for all of society, must be some very insecure and weak-minded individuals.  Why can you not keep it to yourselves?  You probably already have 110 or so churches taking up valuable real estate that no property tax is being paid on in just about every county around here.  You have private homes, businesses and other land…take your religion there and keep it there, before you cause America to become a state like Afghanistan ran by the Taliban.  Meanwhile we shall continue to observe and document your attempted church-state violations, and combat them.

Say NoOctober 8th, 2015 at 5:18 am

hoosier12 RBAE76  Yeah, he’s probably teaching that men and women have the same number of ribs.  The nerve!

jjgravelleOctober 8th, 2015 at 5:19 am

It’s Baphomet, not Satan, which I’d hope would have been obvious in my original post, particularly to anybody with the amour-propre to tout their own literacy as a credential…

ripleymanOctober 8th, 2015 at 5:43 am

Apparently if you are Atheist you don’t show any compassion or respect for others beliefs. This guy says that he is  defending the constitution? Sounds like he needs to take and American History class. Reading the federalist papers would be  a good start.

sonofripleyOctober 8th, 2015 at 9:50 am

jjgravelle sonofripley  Sorry if I upset  you.  I did read that it was Baphomet. I just never heard of him before.  I read about it on the computer today and now I know who or what it is!  Now I will have to look up amour-proper.

Say NoOctober 8th, 2015 at 4:44 pm

RBAE76  What were you doing, stalking him so you could issue one of those famous christian death threats?

hoosier12October 9th, 2015 at 5:40 am

Say No it’s pretty easy to find out what he teaches when you are searching for classes to take and his name pops up as the instructor.

AkageOctober 12th, 2015 at 7:27 pm

ripleyman: Respect is earned.  I respect people as religions can’t take action on their own.
…and yes, he is defending every citizens constitutional rights.  Our government isn’t granted any religious rights.  By seizing religious rights to endorse one religion, these government representatives are imposing on every citizens individual rights.

AkageOctober 12th, 2015 at 7:28 pm

smartjw: Not my currency.  I have a stamp that strikes out that unconstitutional motto and replaces it with E PLURIBUS UNUM.

apollohollonOctober 19th, 2015 at 1:56 pm

Everyone here knows that theres NOTHING in the constitution separating church and state, right? The idea came from the federalist papers.

AkageOctober 19th, 2015 at 5:03 pm

apollohollon: The 1st amendment is the point of initial separation between church and state.  Further amendments and court rulings have better defined the separation.

apollohollonOctober 20th, 2015 at 12:30 am

The 1st amendment says no such thing, nor does it make any “point” of initial separation and I didn’t ask what some activist Communist judges over the years have interpreted it to mean either.

AkageOctober 20th, 2015 at 12:35 am

apollohollon:  It set the initial separation of Congress from enacting religious change.  In subsequent amendments that was applied to all government.
Interesting that you label judges with slanderous intent simply for POTENTIALLY disagreeing with you.
I think it was a pretty plain statement that they didn’t invoke god anywhere in The Constitution.

apollohollonOctober 20th, 2015 at 12:41 am

They invoke God in the VERY FIRST LINE OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS! Thomas Jefferson, Washington, Franklin and all the other main founders were all Freemasons and the very first question they ask you is if you believe in God. God was absolutely important to them and to this country. The constitution and Bill of rights makes the separation of organized religion, THE CHIRCH but not for God. Learn your American history.

apollohollonOctober 20th, 2015 at 1:05 am

Again you’re wrong. If the founders wanted God out of government then they would’ve specifically said that. Truth is they were all God fearing men of different faiths, so they made sure to bar specific religion but never God. “All men are created equal” created by whom? They didn’t have to directly put “God” in there for the layman to get the point.

AkageOctober 20th, 2015 at 4:23 am

apollohollon: First, I think you mean The Declaration of Independence.  Oh, sorry.  I mean THE VERY FIRST LINE OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE which was basically a divorce notice sent to the Supreme Governor of The Church of England (a.k.a. The King of England).

Second, it’s hard to peg some of the founders thoughts on religion.  Atheism wasn’t a concept at the time, but many weren’t very dedicated to or actively avoided Christianity.  Several claimed a now defunct concept called Deism which is a belief in an absent creator.  Historians report that less than 10% of the founders attended church services on any regular basis, including George Washington.

Finally, Adams directly addressed the secular nature of our government when he declared in The Treaty of Tripoli that unlike Muslim nations, The USA has no national religion that would conflict with Islam.  It is up to every individual citizen to decide on a belief to practice.

AkageOctober 20th, 2015 at 4:26 am

apollohollon:  Incorrect.  They were dealing with religious strife and conflict amongst the colonies, which were generally divided along lines of denominational belief.   Many actively studied and followed the European Enlightenment movement which was popular at the time.

AkageOctober 20th, 2015 at 4:29 am

apollohollon:  Hey back!  If you checked the website indicated on the stamp that Say No posted you’d see a perfect explanation of the legality.  Stamping US currency like this doesn’t render the bill unfit to be reissued.

apollohollonOctober 20th, 2015 at 5:59 am

The courts have already ruled that “God” can stay in the pledge, on the currency and on federal buildings. It isn’t endorsing any particular religion, which is what was meant in the first amendment.

AkageOctober 20th, 2015 at 6:22 am

apollohollon:  Yeah…  let’s change the subject since you can’t deal with the last topic.

I’m not going to take that one as it’s not the issue at hand.  The article above addresses a latin (a.k.a. Christian) cross being installed on public property.  That’s an endorsement of one religion above others, which makes it a 1st amendment violation.

jjgravelleOctober 26th, 2015 at 12:40 pm

sonofripley jjgravelle 
You didn’t upset me, my friend.  And I’d have been delighted if you had… 😉