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Judge Sides With Atheists, Orders Removal of Giant Cross in Florida Park

A huge cross that has stood in a park in Florida for 75 years is coming down following a ruling by a federal judge.

Bayview cross
The historic 34-foot cross stands in Bayview Park in Pensacola, Florida. |

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson supported the arguments presented by the American Humanist Association (AHA) and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) in issuing a verdict on Monday that the 34-foot Christian monument will have to be removed because it violated the so-called separation of church and state and was offensive to non-Christians, the Associated Press reported.

Vinson gave the city 30 days to remove it from where it stands in Bayview Park in Pensacola.

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

Pensacola residents criticized the court's decision.

"I think that a lot of times the law gets weighted by a few people's loud voices rather than the majority of people's; especially people with vested interest in this area," Jim Bradford said as quoted by CBN News.

After hearing that the cross will have to be removed, Priscilla Leibig stopped by to see massive monument.

"I wanted to make sure I got a little piece of history and it's a memory for myself," she said. "It just touched me knowing that this cross, a symbol of the cross that's been here for 75 years and to hear that it's being torn down is just; it hurts a little."

"It's very sad. It's a sad day for Pensacola and for Christians all over," she added.

A petition to keep the Bayview Cross and express displeasure with Judge Vinson's ruling that the cross is unconstitutional has been placed on Change.org,

Jerod Perez, the petitioner, said the cross has stood as a monument and staple of Pensacola for years and not once was it ever seen as a symbol or "message to non-Christians in the community, that they're not welcome."

"Even if you disagree with that and still see it as a religious symbol, I mean it is a giant cross after all, you must see the historical and significance of the monument and why it must be preserved," he wrote.

As of Friday, the petition has collected over 12,000 signatures.

Meanwhile, City Public Information Officer Vernon Stewart wrote on his Facebook page: "We are now receiving messages from tourists from all over threatening to boycott Pensacola as a vacation spot if we take the cross down."

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