(Washington, DC, November 20th, 2017)—Today, the American Humanist Association’s (AHA) Appignani Humanist Legal Center filled their response to the American Legion and Prince George’s County’s petitions for rehearing en banc a case brought by the American Humanist Association (AHA) and three of its members, regarding a large Christian cross on government property in Bladensburg, Maryland.
In October, The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an earlier decision by a federal district court upholding the cross. The Fourth Circuit ruled that the cross does violate the Establishment Clause and cannot be displayed on government property.
“Using a Christian cross as a war memorial does not make the cross secular. It makes the war memorial religious,” said Monica Miller, senior counsel from the AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “Numerous courts have considered the constitutionality of crosses and have been virtually unanimous in finding them unconstitutional, irrespective of how old they are, whether they are accompanied by other symbols or monuments, or have independent historical significance.”
Supporters of the cross argue that the memorial is a tribute to veterans and because of this, is not a religious symbol. Roy Speckhardt, AHA executive director disagrees. “Government war memorials should respect all veterans, not just those from one religious group. Humanists advocate for participatory democracy and the expansion of an open society, standing for human rights and social justice. Creating an inclusive society, distinguished by truly universal memorials, is what community and “the best of humanity” is really all about.”
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.
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