ICC Note: A city in Texas recently sold a land plot containing a disputed cross monument to a church following threats from the atheist group Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF). The city sold the property to the church in an effort to avoid a lawsuit after the FFRF claimed that the display was unconstitutional. In support of this gesture, hundreds of local community members placed white crosses on their own property in solidarity.
By Heather Clark
05/21/2016 United States (Christian News Network) – Officials in a Texas city have sold a plot of land surrounding a controversial cross to a local church to avoid a lawsuit from a professing atheist organization.
As previously reported, the cross at issue, a 10-foot cement monument, sits in Riverfront Park in Port Neches, and has done so for over 45 years. But the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) took issue with the monument after it received a complaint from a “concerned citizen” about the presence of the cross.
“The government’s permanent display of a Latin cross on public land is unconstitutional,” its letter to Mayor Glenn Johnson last November stated. “The display of this patently religious symbol on public property confers government endorsement of Christianity, a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause.”
The organization then demanded the removal of the cross.
“We ask you to remove the cross from Port Neches Riverfront Park immediately or direct the display [to] be moved to a more appropriate private location,” it said.
Area residents rallied in support of keeping the cross, with hundreds placing white crosses in their own yards. Johnson vowed not to capitulate to the atheist demands.
“I want to make it perfectly clear to the citizens of Port Neches specifically that this mayor and this city council will not fold, it will not bend, it will not roll over,” he told reporters. “We’re going to fight this all the way. And if it goes to court, then it goes to court. And we’ll fight it there as well.”