40-Foot Cross on Public Property in Maryland Violates First Amendment

Unconstitutional cross? The cross has been in the same spot for decades. It was society which shifted position. — Dave

First Amendment Blog

Shorty after World War I, private organizations in Prince George’s County, Maryland began building a large cross affixed with plaques and inscriptions to commemorate veterans of that county who died in the war.  The cross, which stands four stories tall, was located in the median of a highway intersection.  In 1961, citing the fact that the monument stands in the middle of a traffic median, the Maryland-National Capital Park Commission took ownership of the cross.  The Commission used and continues to use government money to maintain and repair the monument. Over the years, many sectarian as well as secular services have been held at the base of the monument.  A few years ago, the American Humanist Association (an organization with “nontheistic” views) filed a lawsuit against the Commission, arguing that the cross violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment—a church-and-state issue.

cross.jpg The World War I monument in Bladensburg, Maryland. …

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