Deseret Morning News Archives
Joseph S. Brumett cross was installed in '02 near UHP office in Murray.

South Jordan resident Dave Tabish is organizing a protest against American Atheists Inc., which has gone to court to remove crosses marking spots along roadways where Utah Highway Patrol troopers have died.

The rally will take place Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at the UHP section office in Murray, 5681 S. 320 West.

Families of fallen troopers will speak not far from two of the crosses, which bear the names of troopers Robert B. Hutchings and Joseph S. Brumett.

Tabish said the lawsuit the atheist organization filed in U.S. District Court last week is the final straw in a long line of suits that have resulted in the removal of God from public places.

American Atheists Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Texas, filed a complaint against the commander of the UHP and the executive director of the Utah Department of Transportation seeking the removal of several 12-foot crosses that mark the approximate locations where troopers have died on the job.

The complaint states crosses should not be used on state property and should not be adorned with the UHP beehive logo.

The crosses were paid for and set up by the Utah Highway Patrol Association, a fraternal organization of troopers.

"I've been quiet too long," Tabish said Tuesday, adding he has received overwhelming support for the rally. "It's so rewarding to me to see the silent majority in the state say the same thing: Enough's enough. . . . Look at Arlington Cemetery. That's where they're going to go next."

Ellen Johnson, President of American Atheists, said the suit is the first of many to be filed seeking the removal of Christian crosses and memorials on public highway rights-of-way in other states, according to the organization's Web site, www.atheists.org.

"It's a growing problem across the country," Johnson said on the Web site. "We end up with these little Christian shrines everywhere."

Tabish said Saturday's rally is the first of its kind. He has been in touch with people in St. George and Ogden who plan to organize similar rallies, he said.

"If they don't like it, let them blink," Tabish said.

Those attending Saturday's rally will be able to order small crosses with fallen troopers' names on them for display at home. Tabish said he plans to purchase 14 of them for his yard, which also will sport a sign announcing "our fallen troopers."

"We feel like we have a long fight on our hands," he said.

Though the rally isn't designed to sway the judge in a pending trial, Tabish said, he believes it will motivate people to actively defend religious symbolism.


E-mail: jdougherty@desnews.com