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The Freedom From Religion Foundation is backing down from its opposition to Ohio building a Holocaust memorial on state capitol grounds, which includes the Star of David, following a petition in support of the memorial signed by thousands of Americans.
"A few weeks ago, FFRF, an angry atheists group with a long record of failed attempts to expunge any relic for our religious heritage from public life, demanded that the state of Ohio scrap its plans to build the first Holocaust memorial on state capitol grounds in the nation," the American Center for Law and Justice wrote on its website.
"FFRF insensitively called the inclusion of the Star of David 'exclusionary' and a 'dishonor.'"
The secular group clarified that it is not opposing the Holocaust memorial itself, but claimed that the Star of David is a fundamentally religious symbol, and therefore can be interpreted that the State is only honoring Jewish victims of the Holocaust, forgetting the many other people from various groups and faiths who also lost their lives in the Nazi-ordered genocide.
"FFRF's own membership includes veterans of World War II and Holocaust survivors. Our contention is that memorials designated by state governments, particularly anything displayed at the seat of the state government, should remain free from sectarian religious imagery," the secular group wrote in June.
Ohio's Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board decided in July to approve the memorial, however, and the ACLJ wrote a letter to Governor John Kasich urging the State not to alter the current design, which includes the Star of David.
"The Board approved this design despite receiving a threatening, baseless letter from FFRF opposing the design," ACLJ wrote. "The letter includes a flawed legal argument that the State of Ohio's involvement in the Memorial's creation could violate the Establishment Clause."
Over 39,000 people signed ACLJ's petition urging Ohio to keep the Star of David on the Holocaust memorial, and the Christian law group further explained that the Star of David is not only a religious symbol, but a symbol for both the State of Israel and Jewish people. It also reminded readers that the Nazis forced Jewish people to wear the Star of David as a way to identify them during the Holocaust.
"It is an unmistakable historical fact that the Holocaust was the deliberate attempted extermination of the Jewish people by the Nazis," ACLJ added. "Two-thirds of all European Jews were slaughtered in genocide the likes of which the world had never seen."
FFRF has now said that it is not going to file a lawsuit in the case, and that it never had such plans in the first place, according to Media Trackers, though it still objects to the Star of David.
"This is a significant victory for the memory of all those tragically affected by the Holocaust. It is a victory for reason. The angry, illogical vehemence of a few was not allowed to drown out reason and constitutionally sound legal arguments," the ACLJ concluded. "Taking a stand does make a difference."