A federal judge has ordered that the city of Pensacola should remove a cross displayed in a public park for violating the First Amendment. Even though the judge expressed his discontent with the ruling, he felt obliged to apply the decision.
Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson said a 34-foot cross in Pensacola's Bayview Park must be taken down. Vinson stated the city has 30 days to remove the cross, which violates the constitutional separation of church and state.
At one point, Vinson admitted that the ruling was at odds with his personal views. He said the founding founders would certainly found this case "absurd." He described the section of the constitution related to the Establishment Clause as "confusing, inconsistent, and historically unmoored." He also pointed out that many of his fellow judges and scholars criticize the provision.
"It is still the law of the land, and I am not free to ignore it ... the law is the law," Judge Vinson said in a statement published in Washington Times.
In a footnote, the Supreme Court wrote that three of the four plaintiffs lack standing to continue the case. Two of them were now in Canada, and one used the site for his self-described "satanic purposes." However, the man named Andre Ryland had an undisputed position to push the lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed by Freedom From Religion Foundation and the American Humanist Association in 2016. Annie Gaylor, the group's co-founder, said the cross sends a message to Christians that they are the favored citizens. She also argued that the park serves all residents from different religious affiliations, such as Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, and Muslim.
For Theodore Williams, who goes to the park every day, he thinks it is a waste of time to remove the cross. The original cross was installed in 1941, and it was replaced with 34-foot, white "Latin Cross" in 1969 by the Pensacola Jaycees.
"If you're nitpicking at small things like that, if it's been here almost 50 years, let it be," Williams said.
According to city documents, Bayview Park pays more than $200 to maintain the cross every year.
On the other hand, Todd Starnes of Fox News and author of The Deplorables Guide to Making America Great Again said people of faith are now facing persecution from a ruthless bunch of godless atheists. He added these groups are hell-bent in preaching atheism and eradicate Christianity from the public.