Freethought Today · April 2017

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

FFRF objects to cross in Florida city hall

FFRF is requesting that a cross be moved from Florida city hall's commission chambers to a more appropriate private location.

A large Latin cross is on display within the commission chambers of the Longwood City Hall building. The cross is approximately 3 feet tall and across its center it says, "We Will Never Forget Their Sacrifices," apparently to memorialize veterans.

FFRF has no objection to honoring veterans, but maintains the cross sends several troubling messages. It endorses religion over nonreligion. And it indicates that the government cares only about Christian veterans — and disdains the service or deaths of non-Christian and nonreligious veterans.

"A majority of federal courts have held displays of Latin crosses on public property to be an unconstitutional display of religion," FFRF Managing Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert writes in a letter to Longwood Mayor Joe Durso. "The inherent religious display of the Christian cross is undeniable and is not disguisable."

Plus, the cross conveys a signal to the nearly 30 percent of Americans who are not Christians (including the 23 percent who are not religious) that they are "not favored members of the political community," to quote the U.S. Supreme Court. The cross has an exclusionary effect, making non-Christian and nonbelieving residents of Longwood political outsiders.

"The city is clearly privileging Christian veterans over others," says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "It's perpetuating the old myth that there are no atheists in foxholes, a falsity exposed by the thousands of servicemembers and veterans who are part of our organization."

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