'Blatant state hostility': Legal battle erupts when town tears down cross

 April 15, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

A pitched battle has erupted in California over the decision by one city to take an easement away from the Lions Club and remove a Christian cross the organization had illuminated at holidays for years.

The situation has been profiled by CBN, which noted the effort to restore the cross continues.

The cross has been on the site since several owners sold the city 1.1 acres of land in the 1970s, but the Lions retained an easement for the cross, the report said.

Atheists in recent years had complained they didn't like it, so the city's solution was to take over the easement and remove the monument.

Now a coalition of Christians is renewing their campaign to have the 28-foot-tall cross restored.

The metal and plexiglass structure had been illuminated on a hill overlooking Albany Hill for decades, CBN said.

It was the East Bay Atheists who began insisting in 2015 that the cross on the private easement be torn down.

They claimed it showed a "preference" for one religion and offended them.

The city's mayor at the time in 2017 soon joined the campaign. Peggy McQuaid, in office, said the city did not support the "continued presence" of the cross.

Then in 2018 a judge claimed the cross, on a private easement, violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, which forbids setting up a state religion.

The city could have sold the plot of ground that was covered by the easement, but instead opted to pursue the destruction of the cross.

The Lions club now has sued to regain its easement, and the cross, the report said.

The complaint notes the court refused to acknowledge that the club had a property right "to display the cross.'

"The First Amendment of the Constitution protects individuals and private entities from such blatant state hostility to those wishing to express symbols of faith and hope," Brad Dacus, president and founder of Pacific Justice Institute, told CBN.

"We at PJI are committed to defending such constitutionally protected expression."

Lions Club chief Kevin Pope told the Washington Times in an interview that city leaders "seem to hate what it represents, and rather than take an amount of money for the land … they've decided to spend what we think is probably close to $1 million" fighting the cross.

Latest News

© 2024 - Patriot News Alerts