An atheist group wants a cross honoring veterans removed from a Florida city hall building.
According to WOFL-TV, inside Longwood City Hall is a wooden cross bearing the inscription, “We will never forget their sacrifices.” The cross was once part of a traveling Vietnam memorial.
Longwood Mayor Joe Durso told WOFL that the cross is there to honor veterans.
“It’s a historical honor that was bestowed on those folks,” Durso said, “so we believe it has every right to be in city hall.”
But the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation wants it removed.
An FFRF spokesperson said in a statement that, while the group has no objection to honoring veterans, the cross’ presence “sends several troubling messages.”
The group argues that the cross tells citizens that “the government cares only about Christian veterans — and disdains the service or deaths of non-Christian and nonreligious veterans.”
In a letter to Durso, the group’s staff attorney Rebecca Markert wrote that “a majority of federal courts have held displays of Latin crosses on public property to be an unconstitutional display of religion.”
“The inherent religious display of the Christian cross is undeniable and is not disguisable,” Markert added. “The display of this patently religious symbol on public property confers government endorsement of Christianity, a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause.”
Faith fight: Atheist group wants veterans memorial cross taken out of city hall pic.twitter.com/zQPv6HS3oM
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FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor requested that the cross be removed.
“The city is clearly privileging Christian veterans over others,” Gaylor said in a statement. “It’s perpetuating the old myth that there are no atheists in foxholes, a falsity exposed by the thousands of servicemembers and veterans who are part of our organization.”
The mayor defended the cross’ placement in city hall.
“We absolutely believe the cross should stay in City Hall,” Durso said. “It was really a generous donation from a veteran who lives in the city of Longwood.”
(H/T: Fox News Insider)