FFRF condemns vandalism of California cross


The Freedom From Religion Foundation condemns the vandalism of a 14-foot granite cross over which it is suing in Santa Clara, Calif.

A large letter X was spray-painted in white on the words “Santa Clara Lions Club” (which donated the cross) in the dedication. The paint has already been washed off.

“It goes without saying that FFRF opposes any defacement of property,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “We do not resort to criminal actions to fight unconstitutional incursions of religion in government. We have the law on our side and that’s why we’re in federal court.”

A news story on a local TV station, KTVU, speculated about whether the spray-painting was connected to the litigation. A woman interviewed for the piece made comments that show the negative effects of the city hosting a giant cross on public property. “It stands for God—whoever did it maybe had no religion,” she charged. While it’s possible news coverage about the lawsuit simply brought the edifice to the attention of the graffiti vandal, Gaylor resents such unfounded allegations. 

The local woman, identified as Carmen Castaneda, also objected to FFRF’s lawsuit, opining that anyone offended by the presence of the cross could just avoid the park.

“This reaction underscores the harm of uniting religion (in this case, Christianity) with government,” Gaylor adds. “It turns believers into insiders and nonbelievers or non-Christians into outsiders who are even expected to avoid using city streets and parks that inappropriately endorse religion.”

FFRF first began complaining about the cross in 2012. The city indicated early on that it knew the cross was a problem, but after four years of city foot-dragging, FFRF decided to file suit on April 20 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose division, with a local member as a plaintiff. Santa Clara is about 45 miles southeast of San Francisco.

FFRF is hopeful the lawsuit can be resolved expeditiously.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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