CFI fears Supreme Court will use Maryland Cross case to breach wall of separation


For Immediate Release: November 5, 2018
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
press@centerforinquiry.org - (207) 358-9785

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In an ominous sign that the wall between government and religion may soon be dismantled, the Center for Inquiry (CFI) expressed its alarm that the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday said it would hear an appeal involving a Christian war memorial on public land. The lower federal appellate court had ruled that the memorial in Bladensburg, MD violated the constitutionally guaranteed separation of church and state.

The memorial, known as the Peace Cross, is a 40’ high concrete Latin cross, completed in 1925 with funds raised by the American Legion to honor the 49 residents of the county who died in the First World War. Since 1961, the Maryland Parks Commission has owned and maintained the giant cross at significant taxpayer expense. The memorial is located on as public highway median and must be kept in good condition or it will be a danger to passing cars.

“We shouldn’t impose a religion on the memory of the men and women who have fought and died for this country,” said former Marine Sergeant Jason Lemieux, CFI’s Director of Government Affairs. “In the history of our country, service members from all walks of life have made the ultimate sacrifice for us. What they had in common was an oath to the Constitution of the United States, not a religion.”

The case represents the first time the new Supreme Court, with the addition of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, will weigh in on the issue of religious monuments on public land. CFI has long argued that the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause precludes religious displays on public property, funded by taxpayer dollars.

“The religious right has been salivating for years at the chance of breaching Thomas Jefferson’s Wall of Separation between church and state,” said Nick Little, CFI’s Vice President and General Counsel. “Their vision of America is one of government support for, and promotion of a specific brand of Christianity. That’s not the America that the Constitution guarantees, and CFI will continue to fight against their efforts.”

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at centerforinquiry.org.