Ameria Hating Atheists offended by cross a thousand miles away
By: BOB UNRUH
One of the four people who sued to tear down a historic cross in a Pensacola, Florida, park lives outside of town. A second reserved the cross location for his own "satanic" practices. And two others live more than 1,000 miles away in Canada.
But the four say they are so offended and injured by the very existence of the city's cross - which has been in a city park there since World War II - that it must be torn down.
Lawyers there have filed a brief with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the case Amanda Kondrat'yev v. Pensacola after a lower court said its hands were tied by that circuit's precedent and the cross would have to go.
"Pensacola has a rich history, and it shouldn't have to censor that history just because part of it is religious," Luke Goodrich, deputy general counsel at Becket, said in a statement addressing the dispute.
The organization is defending the city of Pensacola.
"The Constitution doesn't treat religion like a nasty habit that must be hidden from public view; it treats it as a natural and valuable part of human culture. Pensacola can treat religion the same way," Becket said.
It was the American Humanist Association that sued last year on behalf of four people who complained that the cross was offensive.
One of the plaintiffs had visited the cross for 23 years before filing the lawsuit, Becket noted.
Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea have collaborated to create "Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians," which confirms that groups like Pew Research, Newsweek and The Economist also identify Christians as "the world's most widely persecuted religious group."
At the trial court, the judge said that while the cross "is part of the rich history of Pensacola," the court's hands were tied because the circuit court previously had ruled against a cross in a similar case.
The cross was placed in Pensacola's Bayview Park in 1941 for a gathering organized by a community service group as the U.S. was on the verge of entering World War II, Becket said.
"Pensacola, known as the 'Cradle of Naval Aviation,' was heavily impacted by World War II. For decades, community events have been held at the cross, including Veterans Day and Memorial Day services. Today the cross continues to serve as a symbol of the city's history and culture," the organization said.
The cross is in a 28-acre park that also has a senior center, amphitheater, two dog parks, tennis courts, a bocce ball court, playground, boat ramps, walking trails, picnic areas and a memorial to a local citizen who died in an accident.
"For over 70 years, the Jaycees have hosted community events at the monument, such as sunrise services, Veteran's Day and Memorial Day remembrances, and other voluntary gatherings."
In its filing with the 11th Circuit, Becket notes that the cross is just one of more than 170 displays in Pensacola's parks, which "collectively tell the story of the city's rich history and culture."
The filing argues America's Founders did not "intend for the Establishment Clause to ban crosses and religious symbols from public property" and that considering the history of the symbol it "might well pass constitutional muster."
The district court also applied the wrong standard in its decision-making, and the result contradicted the U.S. Supreme Court, the filing says.
"Ultimately, the court need not reach any of these issues, because plaintiffs lack standing to sue. Two plaintiffs submitted no evidence of standing and have since left the country. The third plaintiff does not live in Pensacola and has suffered no cognizable injury. The last plaintiff not only lacks any injury, but negated any claim of injury by reserving the cross and using it for his own 'satanic purposes,'" the filing explains.
So the case either should be dismissed entirely or resolved in the city's favor "because Pensacola's actions are fully consistent with the Establishment Clause," the brief said.
"Tens of thousands of Pensacolians have used the site for [various] purposes over the years, and there is no record of any objection to the cross" until this case, Becket said.
It argues three of the plaintiffs have virtually no exposure to the cross, and the fourth "contacted the city and 'tried to reserve the site of the cross for Easter Sunday.' A church had already reserved the site for that day, but when [the plaintiff] 'complained,' 'the church graciously agreed to move to another area in the park' to permit [him] to use the cross. [The plaintiff] then proceeded to use the cross for his 'satanic purposes.'"
The brief said Pensacola "has an obvious secular purpose for allowing the cross to remain: to preserve the city's history and culture."Terrorism, Leftist Bullies, Liars, Canada, Cross , Anti-Christian Hate, Pensacola FLorida