Thursday, August 19, 2010

Giant Roadside Crosses Ruled Unconstitutional

I wrote about this issue last year. To recap, a couple of members of the Utah Highway Patrol Association have been putting up metal crosses along the highway to honor fallen officers. But unlike most roadside crosses, these are 12 feet high. American Atheists filed suit to have them removed as a violation of church/state separation, and an appeals court has agreed. The original lawsuit was thrown out.
The appeals court judges disagreed. They said the critical issue was how the large white crosses on public land would be perceived by motorists and others. “We conclude that the cross memorials would convey to a reasonable observer that the state of Utah is endorsing Christianity,” they said. “The memorials use the preeminent symbol of Christianity.” ... The judges said they were also concerned that the memorials included the insignia of the Utah Highway Patrol. They said the combination of the cross and insignia links the state with a particular religious symbol.
I think the appeals court is correct, but as I wrote in the earlier article, ordering that the UHP symbol be removed from the crosses might have been enough of a remedy, rather than taking them down entirely.

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