A 19-foot (6-meter) cedar crucifix has been set up in downtown Chicago, months after city officials said they did not want to offend non-Christians at a holiday fair in the same location by airing a trailer of a movie about Jesus.
City officials approved a permit Wednesday for the cross, which was up in a central square on Good Friday and will remain in place for a sunrise prayer service on Easter Sunday.
"The idea we want to get across is that Daley Plaza is a public forum where people can express ideas, and if they can do that for political ideas, they should be able to do it for religion, too," said attorney Thomas Brejcha, one of the planners of the cross display. "People are free to speak and express their faith."
At least one non-Christian religious leader disagreed.
"We separate church and state in this country for good reason, and to me this crosses the line," said Emily Soloff, executive director of the American Jewish Committee's Chicago chapter.
In November, city officials ignited a religious firestorm when they declined to allow advertising for the film "The Nativity Story" to be shown during the annual German Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza.
Officials initially said they didn't want to appear to be endorsing one religion over another. Then they explained that the film display would be too commercial for the market because the movie studio sponsored it. The studio's sponsorship deal was later dropped, and the film's trailer was shown with city approval.
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