Officials Attempted to Ban Crosses and Other Religious Symbols from July 4 Parade, But It ‘Didn’t Work Out Well’

A town in the Mountain West found out the hard way that banning the most potent symbol in Christianity is not the best way to celebrate the nation’s enduring freedoms.

Rules for this year’s Fourth of July parade in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, originally prohibited religious symbols from being part of the procession — a bitter irony in a country where the very first provision of the very First Amendment guarantees the free exercise of religion.

And the backlash forced organizers to back down.

According to the Coeur d’Alene / Post Falls Press, the Coeur d’Alene Regional Chamber announced its ban on religious symbols as part of a blanket ban on potentially offensive material being part of the festivities.

Chamber President and CEO Linda Coppess told the newspaper in an email that the ban was not intended “to isolate individuals or be considered an anti-religious policy.”


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In the past, Coppess wrote, the chamber “received numerous complaints about displays that people found offensive, including ‘Confederate flags, derogatory illustrations, harsh politically-based language, and graphic photographs,’” the Press reported.

Yeah, well, using a sledgehammer to try to kill a fly might not be intended to put massive holes in the living room wall, but that’s what tends to happen — and the overkill generally doesn’t kill the fly anyway.

In any case, the people of the Coeur d’Alene region — the people who actually make up community events like Fourth of July parades — weren’t standing for it.

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“But an outcry gained momentum over the weekend and after criticism, ‘misunderstandings and accusations,’ the board reconsidered and made ‘an exception for the religious symbols,’” The Press reported.

And crosses were prominent in the parade:

“Banning crosses didn’t work out well for the @cdachamber,” declared a social media post published by the conservative news site the Idaho Tribune.

“We the People have had enough of the anti-Christ tyrants that are in control of Coeur d’Alene.”


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Now, calling the Idaho Regional Chamber “anti-Christ tyrants” is probably a worse case of overkill than the parade banning religious symbols in the first place. But that doesn’t excuse the parade organizers’ original decision.

Religious freedom has been a thread woven through the history of the United States starting long before there even was a United States. Not all, of course, but many of the first European settlers came to the New World in order to escape the religious persecution of the Old.

The Declaration of Independence specifically cites the “Creator” as the source of human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And while the Constitution makes no mention of God, its text specifically forbids any religious text for office holders and the free expression clause of the First Amendment specifically forbids government interference with worship.

In short the Founders, whatever their personal beliefs, wanted no government control over religion. And it’s a very safe bet those same Founders would be aghast that a parade organized to celebrate the birthday of the country they created would have a provision forbidding its participants from the free exercise of their faith.

It’s true that anyone who follows the news in the Year of Our Lord 2024 can understand how the chamber got spooked — the Press reported that Coppess said she had received more than 50 complaints about material at last year’s parade that offended someone.

And in an age of astroturf outrage just waiting on the internet, for many, discretion is the better part of valor — even if that means sacrificing core principles of American freedoms.

It’s also true that there are going to be headaches for anyone organizing a public event like this — don’t be surprised if some Satanic Temple crank or some similar outfit is pushing for a float in next year’s parade, thanks to the controversy here.

But freedom can be a messy business. The Founders knew that, and they committed the country to it anyway.

Americans today have to live up to that.

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Josh Manning

Deputy Managing Editor

The Western Journal

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