KING, N.C. (Christian Examiner) -- A North Carolina city removed a long standing, privately funded statue depicting a soldier kneeling in front of a cross after agreeing to remove all religious symbols at its war memorial -- a decision some council members claim occured after they were bullied.
"I feel this city has been sabotaged and bullied by folks who don't believe in what this community stands for," said King City Council Member Wesley Carter who voted against the settlement. "I feel like we have been pressured by insurance companies and attorneys who have never been to King. They don't know what we are about and what this community stands for."
The decision came after The King City Council voted 3-2 last Tuesday to end a lawsuit filed by the Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AUSCS) in November 2012 on behalf of Steven Hewett, a U.S. Army veteran.
According to Fox News, city officials agreed to remove the sculpture and cease flying the Christian flag at King Central Park, to end any further litigation.
"Both sides in this matter wish to avoid further costs, and this agreement will ensure that the City of King will not spend additional taxpayers' funds to continue litigation in federal court," the city said in a statement.
The Winston-Salem Journal reported the city had already incurred $50,000 in legal fees which were expected to reach $2 million and exceed their $1 million insurance coverage. As part of the settlement, the city's insurer, Scottsdale Insurance Company, will pay $500,000 to AUSCS for legal fees and $1 to Hewett for damages.
According to The Stokes News, city officials stated the decision to settle the case came only after it appeared they could not win in court.
"When you have a judge and lawyers telling you you cannot win the case, then you are throwing good money at nothing," King City Manager Homer Dearmin said. "This came down to if we did pursue it to the next round, we would pick up more legal fees than this city could afford."
Another council member who disagreed with settling the case was Brian Carico.
"The decision I looked at that overwhelms everything else involved is that before I am a council member, before I am a husband, before I am a father or a brother or a son, is that I am a Christian," he said.
"Every word and deed I do is supposed to be in the name of Jesus Christ and I am sorry if certain people disagree with that, but I don't disrespect you. I do ask that you respect that that is how I have to make a decision. I can't vote to remove anything from that memorial because the intent is not there for anyone to be offended. Every veteran that memorial honors took an oath of God and country and they knew what God they were speaking of," Carico said.