ICC Note: As previously reported, the Freedom From Religion Foundation recently contacted a mayor in Oregon regarding a roadside cross, honoring a mother who died in a crash, which they claimed was unconstitutional. While the state itself had not yet taken action, the family decided to remove the cross because they did not want the memorial “to become a point of contention.” Many members of the community are upset over this development, saying that the family should be allowed to grieve however they want.
By Heather Clark
07/21/2017 United States (Christian News Network) – The family of a woman who had been memorialized with a roadside cross in Salem, Oregon has removed the display following a complaint from a prominent professing atheist organization.
“They didn’t want their mother’s memorial to become a point of contention in the community, and thank everyone who supported them,” Kenny Larson, a spokesman for the city, told television station KATU on Tuesday. “They ask the media respect their privacy and have no further comment.”
As previously reported, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) recently sent a letter to the mayor of Salem to advise that it had received a complaint about the cross off Kuebler Boulevard. It said at the time that it did not know the origin of the display.
“It is blatantly unconstitutional for the City of Salem to display a patently religious symbol like a Christian cross on a public roadside,” attorney Rebecca Markert wrote. “The cross … unabashedly creates the perception of government endorsement of Christianity.”
After the city disclosed to reporters that the cross was actually a memorial to a mother who was killed in a car crash at the location at least a decade ago, and had been placed and maintained by her children, FFRF still found the display to be unconstitutional since it rests on public property.
Cheryl Kolbe, the Portland-area leader of FFRF, asserted that the intention of the cross placement does not matter.
“This is not the same as a very recent car accident where somebody put some flowers or whatever or even a cross on the side of the road a week or two,” she told KATU. “The cross dramatically conveys a message of governmental support for Christianity whatever the intention of the display may be.”