Residents of a city in Tennessee are protesting after atheist activists called for the removal of three crosses from public property in the town of Elizabethton.
According to CBN News, the three white crosses have stood on the property since the 1950s when a group of boys working on an Easter project installed them on Lynn Mountain for a local church. Residents say the crosses are a historical fixture in the city.
But the Freedom From Religion Foundation is claiming the crosses are a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause because they are placed on city-owned property.
“They seem to have a pretty obviously Christian message,” said FFRF legal fellow Karen Heineman. “They have no other obvious meaning or other messages with them, and it sends, I think, a pretty obvious message of endorsement of Christianity.”
First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit legal firm that has offered to represent the city for free, disagrees with the claim.
“There is no indication the Lynn Mountain cross display runs afoul of the Constitution,” First Liberty wrote to Elizabethton officials. “The display’s reported history and tradition alone make that clear.”
This past weekend, residents gathered at the site to protest the possible removal, carrying signs that read, “Don’t take them down. I’m a Christian. I stand for the crosses.”
Elizabethton City Attorney Roger Day told local media that any action by the city in response to the FFRF’s request must be taken by the City Council.
City council members did not comment on the request.
This is the second time that the FFRF has asked for the removal of the crosses.
“I hope they don’t have to do that,” Elizabethton resident David Roarke said. “My faith is I believe in it, and I don’t see anything wrong with it myself.
“I know some people don’t believe in it, but a lot of us do,” he added.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Image/Ppeplow
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.