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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Family Research Council (FRC) has submitted an amicus brief in the case of American Legion v. American Humanist Association, which is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. This case arose when the American Humanist Association (AHA) sued for the removal of a 93-year-old cross standing in Bladensburg, Maryland, that memorializes 49 Prince George’s County sons and comrades who died in WWI. The AHA claimed that the cross-shaped memorial is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion in violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.
In our amicus brief, we argue:
“Religion is a part of human identity, and for many people it is a way of being that informs all aspects of their lives. Accordingly, the communities into which we organize ourselves often take on a religious character or identity. In times of suffering, when people are most likely to turn to religion for comfort, the predominant faith of the community understandably manifests itself. Whether the committee of private citizens in charge of the design of the Peace Cross sought to invoke Jesus Christ or simply to mimic the cross-shaped grave-markers on the overseas battlefields of the First World War, the [government’s] subsequent ownership and maintenance of the cross is consistent with the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution. The Peace Cross should be allowed to stand.”
Travis Weber, Esq., Family Research Council’s Vice President of Policy, who co-authored and filed our brief, commented:
“This is an incredible opportunity for the Supreme Court to not only rule for this cross, but to clarify the tangled confusion of current Establishment Clause law, which is currently being used to remove religious messages, signs, and symbols from public squares around our country. As we make clear in our brief, religion has a natural, proper, and even essential role in our public life and the life of our military. The cross shape of this memorial is an eminently understandable public expression of faith by a community enduring loss.”
Alexandra McPhee, Esq., Director of Religious Freedom Advocacy, who co-authored our brief, added that finding the cross unconstitutional would mean “a total hollowing out of the right to religious expression in the public square. The cross sits at the intersection of National Defense Highway among many other monuments dedicated to our nation’s military but is being targeted for its shape. The use of the cross is a poignant reminder of the sacrifice of servicemembers for our country. The government and the public should be able to honor that memory, not erase it.”
To review the full amicus brief, please see: https://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=LK18L18