Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the current governor of Arkansas, has stirred up controversy by refusing to remove a chalk-drawn cross from the entrance of the governor’s mansion.
The decision came after the nonprofit organization Americans United for the Separation of Church and State demanded its removal, arguing that it violates the U.S. Constitution.
The controversy began when Sanders shared a photo on her Facebook page of her three children standing behind a large image of a cross and stained glass that they had colored with sidewalk chalk. The caption read, “New artwork to welcome people into the Governor’s Mansion.” This post caught the attention of Americans United, who then wrote a letter to the governor expressing their concerns.
Americans United, based in Washington, D.C., advocates for the separation of church and state. In their letter, they argued that the chalk artwork conveyed an exclusionary message, suggesting that those who do not share the Christian faith are unwelcome and will be treated differently. They cited various U.S. Supreme Court cases regarding the appropriateness of religious symbols on government property to support their argument.
According to Americans United, while Sanders would be permitted to display the cross in private areas of her residence, having a religious symbol at the entrance of the governor’s mansion crossed the “constitutional line.” They contended that such a display conveyed favoritism toward one religion over others, which they deemed unconstitutional. They requested that the governor remove the chalk-drawn cross.
However, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who identifies as a Christian, stood her ground and refused to comply with the request. In a response on Twitter, she stated that she would not erase the cross or remove her social media post. She also emphasized that she would not hide her Christian faith, asserting that she and the people of Arkansas stand up against what she referred to as “bullying liberals.”
I have received your letter and my answer is no.
I will not erase the beautiful cross my kids drew in chalk on the driveway of the Governor’s Mansion or remove my post on social media, and I will not now or ever hide that I am a Christian.
— Sarah Huckabee Sanders (@SarahHuckabee) June 30, 2023
Sanders further expressed her position in a letter to Americans United, stating that she would not allow them to wash away her children’s chalk drawings or stomp on their Christmas traditions. She conveyed a steadfast commitment to her Christian beliefs and a rejection of any attempt to silence religious expression.
At present, the chalk cross remains intact at the entrance of the governor’s mansion, serving as a symbol of the differing viewpoints on this contentious issue.