AHA News |  

Federal Judge Grants American Humanist Association Motion to Stop Lake Elsinore Religious War Memorial

AHA Says Use of Public Property Violates Constitutional Church-State Separation Mandate

For Immediate Release

Contact: Bill Burgess, Brian Magee, bmagee@americanhumanist.org, 202-238-9088 ext. 105

(Los Angeles, CA, July 16, 2013) — The American Humanist Association (AHA) is pleased that a federal judge yesterday blocked the City of Lake Elsinore, CA, from erecting on public property a monument depicting a soldier kneeling in prayer before a Christian cross. The ruling by US District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson follows the motion for a preliminary injunction against the plan to erect the monument AHA attorneys argued is unconstitutional.

The ruling can be found here.

The AHA filed suit in federal court May 31, 2013, to stop the Lake Elsinore City Council from funding and constructing the display at the city-owned baseball stadium. The city council approved the project in November 2012, despite constitutional concerns. The AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter at that time to the city council explaining that the cross monument would violate the separation of church and state required by the Constitution, but no reply was received. The city approved the design and allocated approximately $50,000 of city funds for construction and installation.

“It is a violation of the First Amendment when a government body unnecessarily chooses a divisively religious means of honoring the country’s veterans,” said William Burgess, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center participating at yesterday’s hearing. “We are pleased that Judge Wilson has seen the necessary merit in our case to stop the religious memorial from being erected on public grounds.”

Officials from the City of Lake Elsinore have the option to appeal today’s decision.

The suit contains details about the times several city officials and supporters of the proposed monument publicly declared the Christian symbolism it includes was at least part of the reason they supported its construction. Despite the clearly sectarian motivation for spending public money—and a warning from the city’s attorney that the monument as approved is likely unconstitutional—the city council unanimously voted to approve the monument anyway, saying that they were “taking a stand” for Christianity and against the separation of church and state.

The lawsuit, American Humanist Association et al. v. City of Lake Elsinore, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. A copy of the complaint is available here.

###

The American Humanist Association (americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington D.C., its work is extended through more than 170 local chapters and affiliates across the United States. Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation and The Herb Block Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms a responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.

American Humanist Association

Have you ever worked in an overly religious workplace? Tell us about it.

19 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday Everyone! From theHumanist.com Comics Section: Ideas Are Fair Gam...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

It is almost Super Bowl Time! So, what team does God root for?

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

It's time to stop Saudi Arabia from continuing to carry out cruel punishment aga...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

The nation’s capital honors reason as personified by Charles Darwin on February...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

I like to finish out the day with a little humor, so I thought this was appropri...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Today, on the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the house has voted to pass H.R.7...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

This week on the Humanist Hour Podcast, Marshall Brain talks about the logic of...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Opposing lawyers in our lawsuit challenging coach-led prayer at Chestatee High i...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

"CONTROVERSIAL" billboard from Inland Empire CoR's television coverage from CBS!!

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

The AHA has become familiar with this particular issue over years; sports team p...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Did you see the new film SELMA? The United Coalition of Reason's Jason Heap, rev...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Here is a little re-cap of religious exemption in the United States.

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

What did you think of President Obama's State of the Union speech? #sotu #humanism

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Would you consider the vandalism of a secular billboard to be a hate crime?

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Silverado-Modjeska Recreation and Park District’s board of directors will no...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Not only is it possible, it seems quite easy to raise a moral child without usin...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Remembering the dream. #MLKDay

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

A former Chestatee coach told the student players, "Jesus was a wrestler."

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

If you're in the Boston area on Sunday, AHA legal director David Niose will be a...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Awesome to see Bill Maher endorsing the Openly Secular campaign!

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

All eyes will be on you United States Supreme Court! Let's hope you make the rig...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

Help us make this year's International Darwin Day the best one yet!

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

"Today, our Nation continues to be shaped by people of every religion and of no...

9 days ago