Appellate Court Rules Maryland Cross Unconstitutional

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For Immediate Release

Contact: Amy Couch, 202-238-9088, 

David Niose, 202-238-9088, 

(Washington, DC, October 18, 2017)—A federal appellate court ruled today, in a case brought by the American Humanist Association (AHA) and three of its members, that a large Christian cross on government property in Bladensburg, Maryland, violates the US Constitution. The ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturns an earlier decision by a federal district court upholding the cross.

The court correctly ruled that the cross unconstitutionally endorses Christianity and favors Christians to the exclusion of all other religious Americans,” said Monica Miller, senior counsel from the AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

Supporters of the cross, which was erected in the 1920s, had argued that the monument was a memorial to honor fallen soldiers of the First World War, but the plaintiffs contended that war memorials nevertheless cannot endorse religion.

“Government war memorials should respect all veterans, not just those from one religious group,” said Roy Speckhardt, AHA executive director. “Religious neutrality is important in a pluralistic society like ours.”

Read the court decision here.

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Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. 

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