(Photo: KCBY video)
An atheist group is trying to force the city of Coos Bay, Oregon to take down a cross that serves to honor Vietnam War heroes, because they say, the monument is on public property and so violates the separation between Church and state.
"Our complainants inform us that a white cross sits in the park near a playground," a letter from The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) stated, according to Christian News. "Our complainants further inform us that this display has been in the park for several decades. There have also been recent efforts to restore the cross."
The cross is currently displayed at Mingus Park in Coos Bay, and is accessible to all who wish to pay their respects to those who died in the Vietnam War. FFRF are saying, however, that a number of citizens have protested against the monument, because they believes it violates the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution.
Landy Marshall, who put up the cross four decades ago, told KCBY News that the memorial is not supposed to be about religion.
"It does not mean Christianity. I didn't put it there because I'm religious," Marshall said. "It's a marker that says here's someone who passed, who has died, who suffered and died."
Rebecca Markert of the FFRF insisted, however, that the cross is a sectarian symbol on government land and that the Bill of Rights "exists to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority."
The atheist group added that regardless of the purpose of the monument, which is to honor war heroes, the Christian cross violates the rights of secular people.
"The inherent religious significance of the Latin cross is undeniable and is not disguisable," FFRF continued. "No secular purpose, no matter how sincere, will detract from the overall message that the cross stands for Christianity and the overall display of Christianity."
The letter further makes the claim that the cross could be perceived by some that the government only caring for Christian soldiers, disregarding those that follow other religions or those without any religion.
FFRF is demanding that the Vietnam memorial cross is taken down, or that the monument be moved to a private location, away from a public area.
"All the monument does is honor those who died at our government orders. It says nothing about establishing a religion," one Coos Bay resident, identified as Shirley, has said.
"The fact of the matter is that this country was settled so people could freely choose and practice their religion," added a Vietnam veteran called Ray. "I am so tired of the minority opinions getting their way."
Coos Bay will hold a public hearing on April 2 over the monument.