Pensacola cross

Judges orders 75-year-old Christian cross to be removed, stirring up heated debate over rights and religion

A federal judge ruled yesterday that the cross at Bayview Park in Pensacola, Florida, must be removed within 30 days, and while the city tries to determine how to move forward after the ruling, a debate on social media with many residents outraged it’s being removed while others are in support of it.

Pensacola News Journal reports that the cross was ordered for removal after Judge Roger Vinson ruled the cross unconstitutional and in violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause. The decision stems from a 2016 lawsuit filed by Amanda Kondrat’Yev, the American Humanist Association, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Marco Rubio, US Senator of Florida, opposed the removal of the cross, and “tweeted” that he hoped Florida would appeal. Others, such as Monica Miller, the senior counsel with the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center, said that removing the cross was about the separation of church and state, not about removing religion completely.

“We’re not here to remove religion from society,” Miller said. “Not only is that not desirable, but it’s not practical. It’s not part of our mission. Religion can play a role however people want. It’s about the government not being able to endorse religion and promote it themselves.”

Meanwhile, FOX News reports Judge Vinson said he was well-aware that numerous Pensacola residents want the cross to remain. Yet, his decision was based on following the law.

“I am aware that there is a lot of support in Pensacola to keep the cross as is, and I understand and I understand and respect that point of view. But, the law is the law.”

[Feature Photo: American Humanist Association]