Religion

Humanists Sue To Tear Down WWI Memorial Shaped Like Cross

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

The American Humanist Association filed suit in federal court in Maryland this week calling for the Bladensburg Peace Cross to be torn down.

Dedicated on July 13, 1925, the 40-foot tall marble memorial honors the 49 men of Prince George’s County who died in World War I.

The AHA says the shape of the memorial violates the separation of church and state.

One of the plaintiffs, Steven Lowe, said he’s upset every time he drives by the memorial in Bladensburg.

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"He believes that the Bladensburg Cross associates a Christian religious symbol with the state and gives the impression that the state supports and approves of Christianity, as opposed to other religions, and that the state may even prefer Christians and Christianity over other religions," the AHA complaint says. "As a non-Christian, Mr. Lowe is personally offended and feels excluded by this governmental message."

Town administrator John E. Moss called the memorial “historic and patriotic.”

"The cross memorializes our veterans," Moss said. "It was never meant to be a religious icon."

There is a Woodrow Wilson quote at the base of the monument: “The right is more precious than the peace; we shall fight for the things we have always carried nearest our hearts; to such a task we dedicate ourselves.”

Critics argue the plaque is barely visible beneath surrounding shrubs. It just looks like a gigantic cross.

The a spokesperson for the parks commission, which was deeded the cross in 1960, said there are no plans to remove the cross.

The commission has 60 days to respond to the lawsuit.

Sources: New York Daily News, Washington Post