Does a sign pointing out directions to a church violate the First Amendment? This court said no. Find out why at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.
Along the side of the road in the Pennsylvania town of Shickshinny Borough is a small sign. On the sign, appear the words, “Bible Baptist Church Welcomes You…one block” and it features a Bible, a cross, and an arrow pointing in the direction of the church.
The sign has been on the side of the road since 2008 when the city council approved its placement, at the cost of the church, replacing a sign there sign that had been standing nearby since the 1980’s.
The individual complaining about the sign was the lone vote on the city council against its placement when that council approved its placement. She also happens to be able to see the sign from her home. She filed this lawsuit four years after the sign was erected alleging that the sign was a religious sign and, since the city council approved of its placement and permitted it to reside on the side of the road, the town was violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
The court agreed that the sign was a religious sign, but it dismissed the lawsuit anyway. The court said that no reasonable observer could conclude that a sign pointing out the direction to a church building could be the government’s way of establishing a religion in violation of the First Amendment.
Rather, to quote the court, “A reasonable observer would think it is a sign to a church and nothing more.”
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