FFRF hails Maryland cross case victory


An appeals court has ruled in favor of secularists in a challenge of an enormous cross in the middle of a public roadway in Maryland.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed an amicus brief in 2016 in support of American Humanist Association’s objection to a district court’s decision that the 40-foot Latin cross in Bladensburg, Md., was constitutional.

The AHA appealed the case to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Feb. 29, 2016, and FFRF filed a “friend of the court” brief in March of that year jointly with the Center For Inquiry.

The Bladensburg cross is a massive Latin cross displayed on government property in the center of one of the busiest intersections in Prince George’s County, Md. The religious structure, a claimed war memorial, has been maintained with thousands of dollars in government funds.

“It is without a doubt a religious symbol that cannot survive constitutional scrutiny,” FFRF contended in its brief.

The Court of Appeals echoed this logic, concluding that the monumental cross — a universal hallmark symbol of Christianity — entangled the government with religion.

“One simply cannot ignore the fact that for thousands of years, the Latin cross has represented Christianity,” wrote the court in its opinion. “Even in the memorial context, a Latin cross serves not simply as a generic symbol of death, but rather a Christian symbol of the death of Jesus Christ.”

FFRF applauds the court’s ruling upholding the enshrined constitutional principle of separation between church and state.

“The cross was a blatant governmental endorsement of religion,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “We were confident that the court would make the right decision and are heartened to see we were correct.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a nationwide nonprofit organization with more than 29,000 members across the country, including over 400 members in Maryland. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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