Remove a cross from the front of police headquarters, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is insisting to a Georgia police department.
The Swainsboro Police Department in Georgia has attached a Latin cross to the base of the flagpole in front of its police building, which has caused a concerned resident to reach out to FFRF, a national state/church watchdog. The complainant indicates they feel less safe as a non-Christian because the police department has officially affiliated itself with Christianity.
“The cross unabashedly creates the perception of official government support for Christianity,” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line writes to Swainsboro Police Chief Randy Ellison. “It conveys the message to the 30 percent of Americans who are not religious that they are not ‘favored members of the political community,’” to quote the U.S. Supreme Court.
This display is in direct violation of the Establishment Clause, which protects the religious freedom of Americans by separating religion and government, FFRF adds.
The Latin cross itself has undeniable Christian symbolism, according to numerous court cases that define the cross as a symbol of Christianity. FFRF points out that almost a third of Americans today identify as “nones” (atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular). They and other non-Christians are turned into outsiders in their own community when the police force identifies with Christianity.
The Swainsboro Police Department needs to immediately remove the cross for all these reasons, FFRF is insisting.
“Such a brazen endorsement of a religion is shocking,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “What makes this particularly distasteful is that the Latin cross is attached to a flagpole flying the American flag, which sends an inappropriate message that to be a true American, one must be Christian. But in the US, which values religious liberty, there can and should be no religious test for citizenship.”
You can read the full FFRF letter here.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a Wisconsin-based nonprofit with over 40,000 members and several chapters across the country, including more than 600 members and a chapter in Georgia. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters related to nontheism.