Locals in Elizabethton, Tennessee object to The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s demand to remove three crosses located at the top of Lynn Mountain. The atheist foundation asserts that the three crosses located on a land owned by the city represent a violation of the Establishment Clause as stated in the First Amendment. Such claims have been refuted by others such as the nonprofit law firm First Liberty Institute, stating that the crosses on Lynn Mountain does not involve any constitutional violation.
CBN News reports:
Dozens of residents of Elizabethton, Tennessee, are protesting after atheist activists demanded the removal of three crosses from purportedly public lands.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) wants officials to remove the decades-old crosses atop Lynn Mountain. The atheist group claims the religious symbols’ presence on city-owned land constitutes a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, WJHL-TV reported.
“They are crosses up there by themselves,” FFRF legal fellow Karen Heineman told the outlet. “They seem to have a pretty obviously Christian message.”
She continued, “They have no other obvious meaning or other messages with them, and it sends, I think, a pretty obvious message of endorsement of Christianity.”
Others, though, disagree. First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit conservative legal firm, has offered pro bono representation to the city and has purported no constitutional violation is in play.
“There is no indication the Lynn Mountain cross display runs afoul of the Constitution,” First Liberty wrote to Elizabethton officials. “The display’s reported history and tradition alone make that clear.”
The placement of the three crosses on Lynn Mountain reportedly dates back to the 1950s. The crosses were placed there as part of a church’s Easter project.
The crosses were reportedly placed on the property in the 1950s by a group of boys working on an Easter project for their church. The Johnson City Press noted the crosses have become a staple in the community and are often lighted up at Christmastime.
The FFRF reportedly first complained about the display in 2018 and is now renewing its call for removal.
Some residents have defended the crosses and have said removal won’t be a popular option among many locals. Dozens gathered to protest over the weekend, carrying signs that read, “Don’t take them down. I’m a Christian. I stand for the crosses.”
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