Last June I wrote to this opinion column concerning a letter and an action, which had been addressed to the churches in the city of Princeton regarding the removal of our directional signs, many of which had been seemingly ubiquitous along the streets of this city and many other cities throughout Bureau County, the state of Illinois and the nation, as a whole. Some of those signs had been in place for better than 20 years with no hue and cry from anyone until last July. A short while after the letters went out, so did the signs get pulled up “by the roots” and taken away. We still do not know where they are, or if indeed, they even exist any longer. Well, the chapter ended. No one in the church community in Princeton seemed to want to stand against the Goliath of the Department of Highways, so we all “turned our cheek” and obeyed what we believed to be the law.
Then ... just within the past weeks there have appeared a considerable number of directional signs along the roadsides of the city of Princeton, explaining to anyone interested, or not, where a park is or a memorial pylon otherwise never visited exists; and curiously quite a number of those new directional signs are located on or very near to sites whereon until just a few short months ago, stood a church directional sign! I do recall when my church originally received our “removal” letter we contacted the city manager of Princeton who told us he could do nothing about it; it was a Highway Department decision. Funny how that worked out for Princeton! Considering how slowly government works, the new directional signs mushrooming all over Princeton had to be in the planning for some time, and that being the case, it could be thought that a rather disingenuous use of the Highways Department and a “law” seldom, if ever enforced on houses of worship could be ascribed to the city manager and City Hall.
Perhaps those in the position capable of enforcing arcane law believed they had an easy target, one who would not object or raise any opposition over a little thing like a sign; and perhaps they were correct in that considering the outcome. I am simply questioning if our government can and would take such an action for its own particular benefits and project, what could they be thinking up for us next?
Rev. Fr. Kyrill Esposito, OSB, St. Jude’s Anglican Church