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ICC Note: Following a recent complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a city in Missouri sold a plot of public land that contained a cross display to a private organization in order to avoid a potential lawsuit. The FFRF initially suggested that it was unconstitutional to have a cross on public grounds because it would serve as a government endorsement of Christianity. However, following the sale of land, the FFRF has expressed further concerns that the sale was conducted to protect the cross, which they alleged would also be “legally problematic.”

By Heather Clark

09/11/2017 United States (Christian News Network) – A prominent professing atheist organization has expressed its skepticism after a Missouri city recently sold a section of land surrounding an 80-year-old cross display to a private foundation in an effort to assuage the organization’s concerns about government endorsement of Christianity.

“If the intent is to save the religious display, the purpose of the transfer is religious and could be considered a legally problematic sham remedy,” wrote the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) to the City of Neosho on Friday.

As previously reported, FFRF first sent a letter in May to Mayor Ben Baker, stating that it had been informed by a complainant that a cross figure lies on the side of a hill in Big Spring Park, which is public property. It asserted that the figure violates the U.S. Constitution because its public location sends the message that the government endorses Christianity.

“The government’s permanent display of a Latin cross on public land is unconstitutional,” the correspondence asserted. “The display of this patently religious symbol on public property confers government endorsement of Christianity, a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause.”

It requested that the cross be removed from the park or moved to private property.

However, once residents of Neosho heard about FFRF’s effort, many urged officials not to cave to the Church-State separation group. The cross has been in place since 1930 without complaint.

“In fact, all day today I got texts and messages and e-mails and calls saying, ‘Stand strong. Keep the cross,’ and so that’s what we’re going to do,” Mayor Ben Baker told Action 12 News.

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