For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, email@example.com
(Bladensburg, MD, May 4, 2015)—The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center filed for summary judgment in its lawsuit challenging the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission’s ownership, maintenance and prominent display of a large Christian cross on public land.
“The federal courts have been virtually unanimous in holding that a government memorial featuring a Christian cross is unconstitutional, especially when that cross, as here, is prominently situated on government property,” said Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.
“This enormous cross on public land exalts Christian soldiers while sending a stigmatizing message to non-Christian service members that they are unworthy of inclusion,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “The government should honor the sacrifices of all veterans.”
The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center filed the lawsuit in February 2014 on behalf of three citizens and the American Humanist Association. The lawsuit alleges that the maintenance and display of the 40-foot Latin cross on a major public roadway median in Bladensburg, Maryland, violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. According to the lawsuit, the history of the cross affirms its religious symbolism, as fundraising efforts included a theistic contribution pledge, proclaiming “One God, one country, one flag,” while the keynote speaker at the dedication ceremony declared that the cross is “symbolic of Calvary,” which connotes the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The motion for summary judgment calls for the Court to issue a declaratory judgement that the display and maintenance of the Bladensburg Cross is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. It also asks the Court to order the Commission to remove the Cross from the property or modify it so that its shape no longer suggests that of a cross and to permanently enjoin the defendants from displaying the Cross in its current location.
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., 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.