The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to hear Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission v. American Humanist Association, a case involving a 40-foot-tall Christian cross that towers over an intersection in Bladensburg, Md. The cross is owned and maintained by the state of Maryland.
In response to the Supreme Court’s decision to grant review of this case, Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, issued the following statement:
“Our Constitution protects the religious freedom of all Americans – religious and nonreligious alike – by ensuring that government does not endorse a particular faith or favor religion over nonreligion. This immense Christian cross on public land clearly shows government promoting one religion – Christianity – above all others.
“As the federal appeals court noted when it rightly deemed this cross to be unconstitutional, ‘[o]ne simply cannot ignore the fact that for thousands of years the Latin cross has represented Christianity. Even in the memorial context, a Latin cross serves not simply as a generic symbol of death, but rather a Christian symbol of the death of Jesus Christ.’
“We respect the state’s wish to honor veterans and agree with the appeals court that this worthy goal can be accomplished in ways that don’t promote a particular religion and that respect the religious diversity of Maryland’s citizens, including veterans. We urge the Supreme Court to affirm that this cross is unconstitutional.”
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.