South Dakota City to Decide On Religious Snow Plows After Atheist Complaint

((Photo: Reuters/HYUNGWON KANG))A VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) snow plow clears snow after a heavy snowstorm in Great Falls, Virginia February 6, 2010.

A town in South Dakota is set to make a decision this week on the fate of religious artwork painted by high school students as part of an annual competition.

For the past five years, multiple high schools in Sioux Falls, South Dakota have participated in an annual "Paint the Plows" competition where they paint snow plows in front of their schools. This year, one school, Lutheran High, painted their plow to mimic a Coca-Cola bottle that reads: "Jesus Christ."

The plow also includes Bible verse John 1:14 that reads "Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst."

Although the students at Lutheran High entered a religious-themed plow last year and were able to participate in the competition, this year they were forced to withdraw after a local atheist and member of Siouxland Freethinkers complained that because the message was painted on the snow plow, government property, that it violated the Separation of Church and State.

"That was a clear endorsement of religion and it was on city property," atheist Eric Novontry told OneNewsNow regarding the snow plows.

According to the Argus Leader, city officials will announce this week what they plan to do with the snow plows, as they have refused to paint over them. City officials reportedly gave Lutheran High the chance to paint over the plow and still be in the competition, but due to time constraints the school withdrew its submission.

"We are not going to be painting over those plows; those plow blades," Mayor Mike Huether said in a radio interview this week. "Unless, I guess, I get some Supreme Court case (that) says that I have to."

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