For some reason, the Longwood City Commission in Florida honors veterans by reminding people that only Christians fight for this country. At least that’s the impression you’d get when you see the large cross with the words “We Will Never Forget Their Sacrifices” that they’re using as a memorial.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is calling for the cross to be moved to a private venue. If the city wants to honor veterans, they should figure out a way to do so without promoting Christianity in the process.
FFRF has no objection to honoring veterans, but maintains the cross sends several troubling messages. It endorses religion over nonreligion. And it indicates that the government cares only about Christian veterans — and disdains the service or deaths of non-Christian and nonreligious veterans.
“A majority of federal courts have held displays of Latin crosses on public property to be an unconstitutional display of religion,” FFRF Managing Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert writes in a letter to Longwood Mayor Joe Durso. “The inherent religious display of the Christian cross is undeniable and is not disguisable. The display of this patently religious symbol on public property confers government endorsement of Christianity, a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause.”
“The city is clearly privileging Christian veterans over others,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “It’s perpetuating the old myth that there are no atheists in foxholes, a falsity exposed by the thousands of servicemembers and veterans who are part of our organization.”
The Mayor’s response so far? Screw the Constitution. He wants to keep the cross right where it is:
… Mayor Joe Durso said Wednesday the city has “no intention” of removing the cross.
“It was donated to us as a nice honor in paying homage to those men and women who served,” Durso said. “How is having a cross an endorsement? … They are trying to create a fire where there is no fire.”
“How is having a cross an endorsement?” Well, why not replace it with a star and crescent that says the same thing and then we’ll see what Durso thinks.
And if he’s open to donations, I’m sure The Satanic Temple would like to send him a four-foot-tall Baphomet statue honoring veterans.
They can fight this all they want, but there’s no denying court precedent. This is illegal. The question is whether Durso and the City Council want to waste taxpayer money defending a Christian cross or whether they care more about doing their jobs and honoring veterans in a secular, proper way.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)