Atheists have lost a decision in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday and a historic World War II-era cross on public property in Pensacola, Florida, will remain standing.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sued back in 2016 to have the cross removed, claiming it was a violation of the constitution. This despite the public overwhelmingly in support of keeping the cross standing as it had been since 1941.
According to a statement from Becket Law, a firm focused on religious liberty issues, the cross will not be taken down after this latest decision in the multi-year long court battle.
Becket explained the contributing factors in the ruling:
Following the Supreme Court’s decision in American Legion v. American Humanist Association, protecting a World War I memorial cross in Bladensburg, Maryland, the Eleventh Circuit ruled that the cross is constitutional, acknowledging that it has become “embedded in the fabric of the Pensacola community” and that removing it could “strike many as aggressively hostile to religion.” The Bayview Cross is one of over 170 displays in Pensacola parks memorializing the City’s diverse history and culture.
Notably, of the four individuals who brought the original lawsuit against the city, only one of them was from the area. When the city didn’t back down, FFRF partnered with the American Humanist Association to bring a lawsuit.
“The Supreme Court has now made clear that religious symbols are an important part of our nation’s history and culture,” Luke Goodrich, VP at Becket said in the statement.
The cross was built nearly 80 years ago in Bayview Park, meant to be a symbol of hope as the country prepared to go to war. The location has since been a regular location for various observations, from Easter to Veterans Day.
This victory comes as a blow to FFRF, who celebrated their favorable court decision back in 2017 with this tweet:
Our victory in Pensacola ruffled some feathers over at Fox. https://t.co/AK412Efx9R
— FFRF (@FFRF) June 19, 2017