The Freedom From Religion Foundation is urging Santa Clara officials to remove a Latin cross from public property.
After many months of indecision, the city council has agreed the cross is not on constitutional footing. The city council has announced it will discuss the future of the cross at its Tuesday, Aug. 21 meeting. A July 24 letter from a city attorney laid out the options: "Dismantling the cross, moving the cross, transferring the land on which the cross sits, and changing the name of the park."
The large granite Latin cross in question is displayed at Memorial Cross Park, a publicly-owned area at the intersection of Martin Avenue and De La Cruz Boulevard in Santa Clara, Calif.
The cross was donated to the city by the Lions Club to commemorate the location of a Catholic Mission that has since been removed.
FFRF Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert first complained about this Establishment Clause violation on April 5, 2012: "This display impermissibly demonstrates not only the city of Santa Clara's preference for religion over non-religion but also Christianity, specifically Catholicism, over all other faiths." After no reply, a follow-up letter was sent.
A deputy city attorney finally told Markert on April 19 that the city was "awaiting the outcome" of the Trunk v. City of San Diego petition (a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision striking down a display of a cross as part of a war memorial atop Mt. Soledad in La Jolla, Calif.).
Markert pointed out in a July 2 letter that "the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for certiorari in Trunk v. San Diego," meaning the appeals court decision against crosses on public land holds firm. Markert said the action reaffirmed that the "sectarian symbol" in Santa Clara carries an "inherently religious message."
1. Please phone and/or email the city council before the Tuesday, Aug. 21 meeting. The agenda description, "City staff hopes to obtain direction from the council on how best to resolve this issue," means that officials need to hear from you. Tell them that Supreme Court precedent dictates that this is a government endorsement of religion and the best solution is to relocate the cross to private property and change the name of Memorial Cross Park. If you live in Santa Clara be sure to so identify yourself, but anyone can help influence the discussion. As a citizen and taxpayer you do not deserve to be left out of the decision.
2. Attend the city council meeting if possible. Citizen participation is vital. Click here to view the procedure on addressing the council during council meetings. There is apt to be emotional testimony in favor of "saving the cross" and secularists need to speak up.
The meeting will be held at city hall in the Council Chambers, 1500 Warburton Avenue at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 21.
Mayor Jamie Matthews and City Council
1500 Warburton Avenue
Santa Clara, CA 95050
Phone: (408) 615-2250
Click here to contact individual council members.
You may also choose to write to your local paper. Feel free to chime in on current news stories, offering your secular point of view.
(Feel free to copy and paste the statement below.)
I urge the city to uphold the Constitution and remove the Latin cross at Memorial Cross Park and change the park name to a suitable alternative. A solution would be to offer the religious symbol to a private entity for display on private property. Transferring publicly-owned land in order to "save the cross" as the focus of a city park does not solve the problem and will only help to further entangle city government with sectarian principles. Please honor our secular roots and end this state-church violation.
Thank you for your help!