The Freedom From Religion Foundation is asking the city of Tucson, Ariz., to remove religious shrines or move it to a more appropriate loacation. FFRF received a local complaint about the Our Lady of Guadalupe located at the southeast base of "A" Mountain. "A" Mountain is public land owned by the city.
According to news reports, shrines on the mountain have been placed since 19
93 including one created by a former Pima County jail inmate, Pancho Murietta.
FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott sent a letter on June 21 to Richard Miranda, the Tucson city manager, explaining why the shrine is inappropriate:
"The display of this patently religious symbol in this public park confers government endorsement of Christianity in an extremely public way. It endorses religion over non-religion, Christianity over all other faiths, and Catholicism over all other sects. Allowing religious shrines depicting the Virgin Mary on public land clearly has a primary effect of advancing religion."
"There's always a 'good reason' promoted to make an exception and violate the provision separating religion from government," FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor stated. "I don't actually see any good reason here. I mean, it's just litter. It belongs on private property."
Items placed near the shrines have proliferated including solar-powered lights to illuminate them at night. FFRF points out that there are ample private and church grounds where religious displays may be freely placed.
FFRF is a Madison Wis.-based church/state watchdog with over 19,000 members, including more than 500 in Arizona, and a Phoenix-area chapter.
-Compiled by Lauryn Seering