Vote to Keep New Jersey Christian Veterans Display Is Inviting Litigation, Says Humanist Group

American Humanist Association's picture

For Immediate Release

Contact:

Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120,

David Niose, legal director, 202-238-9088 ext. 119, dniose@americanhumanist.org

(Roselle Park, NJ, Aug. 19, 2016)—The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center condemns the council members of Roselle Park, New Jersey, for voting to keep an unconstitutional Christian veterans display in front of the public library.

By voting in favor of this religious display and ignoring the objections of local residents, the Borough of Roselle Park and the mayor are making litigation inevitable,” said Monica Miller, senior counsel of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “The Christian symbolism of the memorial and its placement on public property give the impression of government favoritism toward religion, in violation of the First Amendment.”

Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, added, “A memorial featuring a Christian cross excludes the immense sacrifices made by non-Christian soldiers. We hope the borough would instead consider an inclusive, religiously-neutral memorial honors all of our veterans.”

One week ago, the American Humanist Association demanded that the mayor remove the Christian war memorial from public land. The memorial, which depicts a soldier kneeling in front of a cross, was installed on July 29 by city employees with the mayor’s personal authorization. In response, citizens of Roselle Park expressed concerns that the memorial infringed upon the separation of church and state, but the display was not removed.

The American Humanist Association successfully sued Lake Elsinore, California, in 2014 to have a similar war memorial removed. The Lake Elsinore memorial also featured a solider kneeling before a cross. The American Humanist Association also has pending lawsuits challenging Christian crosses on government land in Bladensburg, Maryland, and Pensacola, Florida.

A copy of the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center’s warning letter can be viewed 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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