The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is, once again, going after a memorial aimed at commemorating American lives lost in a combat zone. A Vietnam display in a park in Coos Bay, Ore., is the latest target of atheist activists who are committed to church-state separatism.
The memorial is comprised of a cross design, with a placard on its base. As is typically the case when a religious symbol is included in a memorial, the FFRF is claiming that the cross’ presence is unconstitutional.
As KCBY-TV reports, the atheist organization recently sent a letter to City Manager Rodger Craddock, calling out the cross as problematic and charging that it is an “endorsement of Christianity over other religions and over nonreligion.” The FFRF wants it immediately removed from the park.
“It is unlawful for Coos Bay to display a patently religious symbol such as a Christian cross on public property,” the letter reads, in part.
Currently, the city is reviewing its options.
“The city received it (the letter) and we passed it off to our city attorney to review that and relevant case law,” Craddock told the CBS affiliate. “Obviously these issues are happening around the nation.”
The memorial has been in the park since 1972. It was originally sponsored by Western Bank and the Bay Area Jaycees.
The FFRF is giving the city an ultimatum: Either change the design or move the cross to private property to avoid a lawsuit. Residents will discuss the situation at an April 2 public meeting.
Atheist activists have frequently taken on war memorials, claiming that crosses and other religious symbols are unconstitutional when these commemorative displays are assembled on public property. A similar case was waged last year in Rhode Island.
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