AHA News |  

Lawsuit Demands Removal of 40-Foot Christian Cross from Government Property

Religious Symbol Violates First Amendment’s Church-State Separation

For Immediate Release

Contact:

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

(Washington, DC—Feb. 25, 2014)—A federal lawsuit filed today is demanding removal of a 40-foot Christian cross on government property in a Washington, DC, suburb. The suit, filed on behalf of three plaintiffs by the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center, alleges that the massive structure, which sits on a roadway median in Bladensburg, Maryland, violates the separation of church and state principle of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. A letter sent by the Appignani Humanist Legal Center to the commission in 2012 asking that the constitutional violation be corrected resulted in no action.

“To any passerby, a huge cross such as this can only be understood as endorsing Christianity,” said Appignani Humanist Legal Center Legal Director David Niose. “On public property, that violates the Establishment Clause. We can all support memorials to those who have fought for our country, but they cannot take the form of a massive religious symbol on government property.”

The cross, which has been lit at night since 1965, rests on a large rectangular platform that contains a small plaque with the names of those from Prince George’s County, Maryland who died in World War I. The modest plaque is dominated by the cross and is regularly blocked by bushes. There are no crosswalks connecting the location to the surrounding high-traffic roads and the island has no walkways, aspects that contribute to making the structure easily viewed as a state-endorsed symbol of support for Christianity. The property is owned by the Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission, a government agency.

The history of the cross also contains many religious elements. Initial fundraising efforts included the following pledge that was signed by those who gave money: “We, the citizens of Maryland, trusting in God, the Supreme Ruler of the universe, pledge faith in our brothers who gave their all in the world war to make the world safe for democracy. Their mortal bodies have turned to dust, but their spirit lives to guide us through life in the way of godliness, justice and liberty. With our motto, ‘One God, One Country and one Flag,’ we contribute to this memorial cross commemorating the memory of those who have not died in vain.” The cross also contains an emblem of a gold star with the letters “U.S.” in its center.

The complaint asks for “an injunction enjoining the Defendant (and its successors) from displaying the Bladensburg Cross on public property or otherwise in violation of the Establishment Clause.”

# # #

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

Christianity and Humanism compared. . .

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday everyone!!! More comics at: http://hmn.st/1wOZhEE

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

On June 19, 2014, Amanda Scott testified before the Mobile, Alabama, County Com...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

This is a 5-minute video of students and parents gathered on the football field...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Caption this photo taken at the 2014 World Humanist Congress in Oxford, England...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

This video shows how some religious people react to homosexuality. When you put...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

The newest issue of the Humanist Magazine is out! Take a look! Clay Farris Naff...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Jackson Public School District has agreed to cease including religious activ...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Dave Niose, Legal Director of the AHLC, has been featured on CBS46 in Atlanta, G...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Humanist Hour Podcast #113 out now! Jeremy Chappell talks about the “spiritu...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

This morning, the American Humanist Association issued a press release regarding...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Why are some of the poorest regions in America also the most religious? A new st...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Listen up D.C., Maryland, and Virginia Humanists! Want to meet local free-thinke...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

While vandalism may not be the technique I would use to express my views, some...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

In his new Huffington Post article, Roy Speckhardt discusses prejudice and the k...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Sonja Eggerickx, president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

We just got a nice donation from the AmazonSmile Foundation thanks to people lik...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

The American Humanist Association stands up for the rights of teachers of minori...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

AHA Legislative Associate Matthew Bulger responds to some recent comments by U.S...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

We need more nontheistic politicians in the United States!

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday!! Here is a wonderful poem from Dan Moran. Check It Out!

11 days ago

American Humanist Association

Well, I am not so sure how common this dilemma is, but it is interesting anyway!

11 days ago

American Humanist Association

Hooray! Florida's same-sex marriage ban struck down! Check it out! http://hmn.s...

11 days ago

American Humanist Association

New evidence supporting the theory of evolution has been found in parasite ants...

11 days ago