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A huge cross looms over religious debate in tiny Indiana town

JESUS SAVES.jpg

A 26-foot cross planted by the Faith Community Church of Dugger, Ind. stands on publicly-owned land.

A 26-foot tall cross emblazoned with the message "Jesus Saves" has become the center for more First Amendment debate in Indiana.

The cross stands on a public plot of land in the small Hoosier State community of Dugger, and has Americans United for Separation of Church and State threatening to sue.

"Just because Christianity is this country's religious majority doesn't mean that they get to put their thumb on the scale and use taxpayer dollars."

- Gregory Lipper, Americans United for Separation of Church and State

"It's a pretty flagrant display of the government saying 'this is a Christian town,'" Gregory Lipper, the group's senior counsel, told FoxNews.com. "Everyone gets freedom of religion ...just because Christianity is this country's religious majority doesn't mean that they get to put their thumb on the scale and use taxpayer dollars.

"It doesn't matter what religion the government is endorsing ... it's a clear violation of the Constitution."

The land that the cross sits on is valued at about $3,000, and the little 955-person town cannot afford legal fees to save such a small spot of land.

"We've given the church 60 days to make a decision," Dwight Nielsen, Dugger Town Board president, told FoxNews.com. "We may sell the land to a group of [churches]."

The cross was erected two years ago on behalf of the town's Faith Community Church. The fixture sits on town-owned property near a high school baseball field, but the town approved the build.

"We wanted people to be able to see what the message of the cross represents and get it out to the world in need," Shawn Farris, head pastor at the Faith Community Church, told FoxNews.com.

Farris does not believe that the town made a religious endorsement by letting the church put up the cross:

"We knew it was okay because when you look at the separation between church and state, it's just a fact that the government couldn't tell people how to worship ... it would be the same if they allowed a crescent moon to be put up," he continued.

The town will soon hold a meeting to discuss and finalize the future plans of the cross, officials said.

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