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

Lots of great early feedback for Fighting Back the Right, the forthcoming new bo...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday! Weekends Rock! http://www.jesusandmo.net/2014/10/15/iron2/

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

How do you explain death to a child, or anyone, without religious influence?

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Birthday to Mae Jemison! In 1992, Jemison became the first African America...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Yesterday was Bring Your Bible to School Day. Tell us how you feel about this.

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Throwback Thursday! Can you name this past AHA Humanist of the Year?

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

During our 2014 annual conference, Clay Farris Naff had the pleasure of sitting...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Birthday Oscar Wilde!

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Is the Catholic Church becoming more accepting of homosexuality and same-sex mar...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

When kids opt out of the Pledge, the AHA backs them up!

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

In this week's Humanist Hour Podcast, we are joined by Muhammad Syed and Sarah H...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Another AHA legal victory, and a win for the separation of church and state! A G...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Does it bother you when someone tells you to have a "blessed" day? Take the poll...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt appeared on Newsmax TV today via Skype to...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

How important is religion in everyday life around the world? Here is an interest...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

As humans we all feel, or have felt, the need to belong. But where do humans rea...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

A school board in Colorado is trying to censor American history and their studen...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Nicolas Cage's remake of Left Behind, a film originally starring the always fun...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Have you ever had to fake your belief in order to fit in or get along with frien...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

The AHA’s boycott of the Pledge of Allegiance revealed an unsurprising pattern d...

7 days ago