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Faith Wins: Cross Returning to Veterans Memorial Park Despite Threats from Atheist Group

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Religious liberty advocates are rejoicing after winning the fight to keep a cross at Veteran's Memorial Park in Minnesota after officials decided to create a "free speech zone" to allow the cross to stay.
After a cross was removed from a kneeling soldier at the veterans memorial park in Belle Plaine, MN, advocates for the cross placed new ones at the park and guarded them throughout the day. AP Photo

Religious liberty advocates are rejoicing after winning the fight to keep a cross at Veteran's Memorial Park in Minnesota after officials decided to create a "free speech zone" to allow the cross to stay.

According to Fox News, the atheist organization Freedom From Religion Foundation - a group well known for its staunch opposition to Christianity - demanded the city of Belle Plaine remove the cross last month. FFRF reportedly sent a letter to the town's mayor, Walter Williams, alerting him that a "concerned community member" contacted them to report the city's new Veterans Memorial Garden included a Christian flag alongside the new American flag and a military flag.

In the letter, FFRF said the cross violated the separation of church and state and threatening to slap the town with a $500,000 lawsuit if it didn't comply with the group's demands.

"I never dreamed that something like this would have happened in a town this small, but it happened," Williams told WREG at the time. "We're gonna' fly that flag again, and I'm hoping it's not going to be long" before it happens.

After workers took the cross down, many supporters of vets responded by setting up their own crosses and rallied at the park, waving Christian flags. The Second Brigade Motorcycle Club patrolled the park throughout the day to watch out for vandalism.

In response, the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian nonprofit, proposed setting up a "limited public forum" inside the park, where the original cross could stand, Fox 9 reported. At a special City Council meeting Friday, council members narrowly approved the proposal, by a vote of 3-2. Under the plan, city leaders would set up a method of considering each proposed display, giving priority to veterans groups, the StarTribune reported.

The newly approved plan "ensures that there is no endorsement of religion by the city whatsoever because the memorials that will be put up represent the citizens that put them up," Doug Wardlow, who represented the Alliance Defending Freedom, responded.

The room erupted with cheers and clapping following the passing of the plan, according to video footage shared by Fox News.

"It sets it up so we can have something to memorialize our fallen but it also gives others a chance to memorialize theirs as well," Katie Novotny, a supporter of the cross who lived in Belle Plaine, told the news station. "It doesn't matter if you're Jewish, if you're Muslim, we're all Americans fighting this war together."

Tags : Christian, atheist, cross, veteran, Veteran's Memorial Park, Freedom From Religion Foundation