Until a few days ago, a war memorial in a public park in North Carolina included a metal sculpture depicting a soldier kneeling in prayer before a cross. But city officials voted to remove the sculpture to settle a lawsuit claiming the artwork promoted Christianity.

King, a small city of about 6,000 people 15 miles north of Winston-Salem, dedicated the memorial about a decade ago. But the statue was removed Tuesday night, immediately after The King city council voted 3-2 to end the lawsuit. Now, an empty hole can be seen where the statue once stood.

MyFox8 in Winston-Salem, reporting on the controversy the other day, said the memorial is on city-owned land but was paid for through private donations.

“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 after the vote.

As part of the agreement, the King City Council also said it would stop flying the Christian flag over the memorial and would pay $500,000 to Americans United for Separation of Church and State for the legal costs the group incurred bringing the lawsuit on behalf of local Afghanistan War veteran Steven Hewett.

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