Secular group protests multiple crosses at Orange County Courthouse

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is strongly protesting the presence of multiple crosses at the Orange County Courthouse.

A white Latin cross is on display outside the courthouse next to the main entrance. In addition, there is a veterans' memorial on the grounds of the courthouse that features a large Latin cross and the phrase, "For God and Country."

FFRF has no objection to honoring veterans, but maintains the crosses send several troubling messages," the group said in a statement Friday.

The group accuses Orange County of endorsing religion over nonreligion and indicating it only about Christian veterans.

"The religious significance of the Christian cross is unambiguous and indisputable," FFRF Managing Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert writes in a letter to Orange County Commissioner Barry Burton. "A majority of federal courts have held displays of Latin crosses on public property to be an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. The display of this patently religious symbol on public property confers government endorsement of Christianity, a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause."

The cross by the courthouse entrance conveys a signal to the nearly 30 percent of Americans who are not Christians (including the 23 percent who are not religious) that they are "not favored members of the political community," the group said quoting the U.S. Supreme Court. The cross has an exclusionary effect, making non-Christian and nonbelieving residents of Orange County political outsiders.

"The city is visibly placing Christian veterans on a pedestal," says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "The enormous sacrifices made by non-Christian veterans and servicemembers is being willfully disparaged."

FFRF requests that the crosses be moved from the Orange County Courthouse to a more appropriate private location.

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