City Officials Say Constitution Allows 77-YO Cross Monument in Pensacola Public Park

A 77-year-old cross in a Pensacola, Fla., public park was defended May 16 when city officials appealed a court ruling that the monument be torn down.

In a two-year legal battle pitting the city against secular humanists and self-proclaimed “nontheists,” Pensacola presented its case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

“Religious symbols aren’t like graffiti that the government should erase as soon as someone complains,” attorney Luke Goodrich said in a press release after the court hearing. “The Constitution allows the government to recognize the significant role of religion in our nation’s history and culture.”

Goodrich is vice president and senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, representing the city against the American Humanist Association and the Freedom from Religion Foundation. The plaintiffs prevailed in a lower court last year when a judge ruled the cross violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The 34-foot cross had stood in Pensacola’s 28-acre Bayview Park since 1941 without complaint, the city has said, as a World War II monument donated by a local community service group.

“Pensacola is proud of the pivotal role it has played in American history,” Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward said in the Becket press release, “and we should be free to celebrate that history.”

The plaintiffs lack standing in the case, Becket has said, and the city has a constitutional right to preserve the cross in its current location.

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Source: Baptist Press