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Roadside Cross in Lake Elsinore, CA, Must Be Removed, Says Humanist Group

For Immediate Release


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

(Lake Elsinore, CA—March 4, 2014)—Today the American Humanist Association notified government officials in Lake Elsinore, California, that a Latin cross prominently displayed on city-owned property is a violation of state and federal Constitutions.

The cross, erected on the side of Lake Street at the foot of the I-15 exit ramp, has been on display since May 2012 after a fatal accident occurred near the site. On December 16, 2013, the city removed the cross after repeated requests, but reinstated it two days later with a deadline of removal on January 6, 2014. As of today, the cross has not yet been removed.

“A Latin cross is a Christian symbol, which has no place on government property,” said Monica Miller, attorney for the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “Past court cases have long recognized that religious symbols serving as memorials on government property are unconstitutional.”

The letter details numerous complaints made by a local Lake Elsinore resident to city officials and past federal cases that have recognized the Latin cross as a religious symbol. The American Humanist Association is awaiting a response within one week.

The American Humanist Association was recently involved in another church-state case in Lake Elsinore. On February 27, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson ruled that a planned memorial, to be erected at Lake Elsinore’s minor league baseball team stadium, depicting a soldier kneeling in prayer before a cross, was unconstitutional.

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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.