Illegal Cross Removed from County Park (October 2002)

The County of Santa Barbara removed a Christian cross from Manning Park in August, in response to a challenge to its legality by Foundation member Roger S. Schlueter, chairman of the Humanist Society of Santa Barbara

In late June, Schlueter was alerted to the presence of a wooden cross, approximately 10 feet in height, in Manning Park, which is owned and maintained by Santa Barbara County. His brief investigation revealed that the cross had been maintained by the county for decades.

Schlueter wrote a letter to the Santa Barbara County Parks Commission asking that it be removed, citing various legal precedents.

Rick Wheeler, Interim Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, forwarded the letter to county counsel. Acting promptly on counsel’s advice, they removed the cross.

“It is heartening to see the county react promptly and effectively in removing the cross. This ensures that the wall of separation between church and state remains intact and respected in Santa Barbara County,” said Schlueter.

Schlueter noted that other local governments in California “have expended thousands of dollars and wasted years fighting the removal of other Christian crosses located on public lands in the state.”

“Kudos to Roger for his significant First Amendment victory,” added Anne Gaylor, Foundation president.

Freedom From Religion Foundation