Religious Freedom Advocates Double Down on Protecting Veterans Memorial Cross

Photo credit: First Liberty Institute
Photo credit: First Liberty Institute

Atheists continue their relentless pursuit to remove this nation’s Christian symbols, even memorials built to honor men who fought and died to protect their right to be called free people.

The American Humanist Association sued the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning
Commission (with the American Legion intervening as a defendant), alleging that a 90-year WWI veterans memorial cross on taxpayer-supported property violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.

The government neither establishes nor endorses religion by allowing and maintaining the memorial, but atheists filed suit in 2014. A legal firm called First Liberty Institute intervened on behalf of the American Legion. A district court granted the motion. In late 2015, the court ruled that the cross memorial was constitutional. After this defeat, the atheists appealed the ruling.

The Christian Post reported that the First Liberty Institute filed a new brief in the case to protect the cross. An excerpt:

The brief, however, argues that the cross is an internationally recognized symbol honoring men who gave their lives in World War I and note that there is no available evidence of it being associated with any religious event.

“Although the memorial has been the site of regular patriotic and commemorative events since its inception, the AHA’s expert could not identify any religious event at the Memorial in its nine-decade history, other than a 1931 event noted in The Washington Post. That article mentions that an out of-town preacher planned to hold a series of three Sunday services at the Memorial in August 1931. Nothing in the record, however, confirms whether the services occurred,” explained the brief.

“This cross was erected to honor local American heroes who gave their lives in World War I. It complies with the law in every respect and should stay right where it is. Tearing it down would lead to the very religious divisiveness the Founders intended to avoid when they wrote the First Amendment,” Noel Francisco, lead counsel for The American Legion and chair of Jones Day’s government regulation practice stated in the release.


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