AHA News |  

Federal Judge Stops Lake Elsinore Religious War Memorial

Planned monument depicting a Christian cross violates the First Amendment

For Immediate Release

Contact:

Maggie Ardiente, mardiente@americanhumanist.org, 202-238-9088 x116
Monica Miller, mmiller@americanhumanist.org, 202-238-9088 x120

(Los Angeles, CA—Feb. 27, 2014)—A federal judge has ruled that a planned religious war memorial by the city of Lake Elsinore, CA at the city-owned baseball stadium can’t be built because it “violates both the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause and California’s Establishment and No Preference Clauses.” The planned monument depicts a soldier kneeling in prayer before a Christian cross.

The suit was filed by the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center in May 2013. A preliminary injunction against the city was issued by US District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson in July 2013 and stopped activity until the final ruling was handed down. Among other things, the judge ruled that the planned monument lacks a secular purpose and has the unconstitutional effect of endorsing religion over non-religion.

“I’m pleased Judge Wilson decided to uphold the valuable principles contained within the First Amendment,” said Appignani Humanist Legal Center Director David Niose. “I hope that if members of the city council still want to honor veterans, they will move forward with a monument design that represents everyone who fought for our freedoms.”

The suit and an earlier letter sent to the city contain details about the times several city officials and supporters of the proposed monument publicly declared the Christian symbolism 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.

Officials from the City of Lake Elsinore have the option to appeal the ruling.

# # #

Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other non-religious Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

American Humanist Association

We're happy to welcome a new chapter, Freethought Fort Wayne, to the American Hu...

7 hours ago

American Humanist Association

"It’s not just about the freedom to enjoy marijuana anymore...This is about the...

10 hours ago

American Humanist Association

There's only a few holiday shopping days left: Buy your favorite freethinker a g...

12 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Bill Nye, our favorite science guy, explains evolution by using emoji..."emojica...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Out today! Fighting Back the Right: Reclaiming America from the Attack on Reason...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Congratulations to the Las Vegas Coalition of Reason on the occasion of their of...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Humanist Service Corps has volunteer positions open beginning in summer 2015...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

In a response to a letter sent by the AHA, today we are pleased to report that t...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Most Americans say they accept Christian displays on public property, regardless...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

UBER car service has been getting in to some trouble lately, but will that stop...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

A date for history, as today marks the anniversary of the ratification of the U....

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

One more day! Fighting Back the Right: Reclaiming America from the Attack on Rea...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

It's almost here! Fighting Back the Right: Reclaiming America from the Attack on...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday everyone! Enjoy some comics!

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Ethical Dilemma time! How do you respond when someone wishes you a merry Christm...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Clay Farris Naff gives his humanist perspective on the Senate Torture Report. W...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

An Agnostic Christmas Carol by Marcy Campbell.

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

We're happy to welcome a new chapter, Mississippi Humanist Association, to the A...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

This week on the Humanist Hour Podcast, Bo Bennett speaks with Magician/Comedian...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

AHA Legal Director David Niose will be on The Michael Medved Show in 10 minutes...

7 days ago