FFRF asks to have cross in public park removed

Many residents in and around Port Neches, Texas, have come together to defend and support a cross that sits in a public park after FFRF requested that the city remove the Christian symbol.

The white 10-foot-tall cross, located in the city’s Riverfront Park, has been there for 45 years. But tradition and length of time don’t matter when it comes to the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

“We ask you to remove the cross from Port Neches Riverfront Park immediately or direct the display to be moved to a more appropriate private location,” FFRF Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert wrote in her letter to Mayor Glen Johnson on Nov. 5.

“The government’s permanent display of a Latin cross on public land is unconstitutional,” the letter states. “The inherent religious significance of the Latin cross is undeniable and is not disguisable. No secular purpose, no matter how sincere, will detract from the overall message that the Latin cross stands for Christianity and that the display promotes Christianity.”

Johnson said he’s received calls from many people angry with FFRF, according to a report by KFDM in Port Arthur, Texas.

A prayer vigil was held in the park by cross supporters, but nonbelievers tried to diffuse the situation. “A letter signed by ‘your friendly Port Neches atheists, agnostics and other non-Christians’ was left at the cross along with cookies, asking to find an amicable solution,” KFDM reported. “Members of Midcounty’s Atheist and Agnostic Group say they found the letter torn up after the vigil.”

Port Neches resident Sheila Ackley told a reporter, “We stand united to fight for what our beliefs are. They’re our beliefs. It’s our constitutional right to do so. If we don’t stand for it, it’s no more. It won’t be long and they’re gonna take our churches away. It won’t be long and they’re not gonna allow us to have our bibles. I was placed on this Earth by God to fight for Him and over my dead body.”

There is also a group making and distributing small crosses for residents to place on their lawns.

Freedom From Religion Foundation