For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, email@example.com
(Roselle Park, NJ, Aug. 11, 2016)—The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center warned Mayor Carl Hokanson of Roselle Park, New Jersey, that a Christian cross on city property violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
On July 29, the city placed a Christian cross with a soldier kneeling before it in front of its public library. The display was installed by city employees with the mayor’s personal authorization. City residents worried about the cross’s violation of the separation of church and state reported it to the mayor’s office, but the cross was not removed. On behalf of these citizens, the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center demands that the city remove the cross and to refrain from permitting similarly religious memorials on public property in the future.
“The city should honor the sacrifices of all of its veterans,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “By including a cross in its veterans’ memorial, the mayor is sending the message that our brave, non-Christian service members are somehow less worthy of honor and respect.”
“The courts have been virtually unanimous in finding that Christian crosses on government property unconstitutionally affiliate the government with religion,” said Monica Miller, senior counsel for the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “In displaying a religious symbol on a city war memorial, the government is endorsing religion—Christianity in particular.”
In 2014, the American Humanist Association prevailed in a lawsuit to have a similar war memorial removed in Lake Elsinore, California. The Lake Elsinore memorial included a soldier kneeling before a cross that was virtually identical to the soldier and cross depicted in the display in Roselle Park, New Jersey. The American Humanist Association also has pending lawsuits challenging Christian crosses on government land in Bladensburg, Maryland, and Pensacola, Florida.
A copy of the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center’s warning letter can be viewed here.
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic 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.