FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Nathan Bupp
Washington, D.C (September 6, 2006)óDThis past week, in keeping with the ramping up of the Council for Secular Humanism's legal activities during the past three years, the Council and it's affiliated organization, The Center for Inquiry Office of Public Policy, filed an Amicus brief in the Mt. Soledad cross case. The lawsuit is pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. CFI's Legal Director, attorney Ron Lindsay, authored the brief, assembling a tremendously powerful argument in record time. The lawsuit, seeking the removal of a huge cross, more than forty feet tall, that stands on public property on Mt. Soledad outside San Diego, is being brought by a Vietnam veteran who also happens to be an atheist. This towering cross, erected in 1954, replaced a smaller one that had been put up in 1913 and then replaced in 1934. When the current cross was erected, a private association held a ceremony dedicating it to veterans of World Wars I and II, as well as those of the Korean conflict. However, the site was only officially designated as a war memorial as a result of litigation that was first begun in 1989.
The arguments are as clear as they could be against the cross remaining. In a midnight move meant to thwart the lawsuit, the City of San Diego handed over ownership of the land and the cross to the federal government, but Ron Lindsayís brief argues well that it does not matter whether the cross belongs to the local, state, or federal government: the cross constitutes a clearly unconstitutional abridgement of the separation of church and state as long as it remains on public land. Simply put, a forty-foot-high Christian cross is a clear statement on behalf of the government supporting one religion over others, and over non-religion, that violates the First Amendment. It must come down. A downloadable PDF of the brief is available at: http://www.secularhumanism.org/amicus_brief.pdf.
The Council for Secular Humanism and the Center for Inquiry were the only organizations to comply with the courtís expedited briefing schedule and to file a timely amicus brief on behalf of the plaintiff. The Council hopes that this will be their most active year for direct court actions in defense of secularism, and they expect to challenge further egregious violations of America's constitutional values.
The Council for Secular Humanism, located at the Center for Inquiry, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization promoting rational inquiry, secular values and positive human development through the advancement of secular humanism. The Council, publisher of the bimonthly journal "Free Inquiry," has a Web site at www.secularhumanism.org. The Center for Inquiry's Web site is at www.centerforinquiry.net