Santa Clara, CA removes 14-foot cross following FFRF lawsuit.

A 14-foot cross donated by the Santa Clara Lion’s Club in 1953 to Santa Clara, Calif., has been removed following a lawsuit filed by the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) and one of its local members. The lawsuit was filed in April 2016, and as part of the negotiated settlement, the city has donated the cross to the Catholic Santa Clara University.

The cross was donated by the Lion’s club in 1953 to mark the site of the second Spanish Catholic mission that was established in Santa Clara in 1777. The lawsuit follows repeated appeals and attempts by the FFRF to have the city remove the cross without having to go to court. The FFRF approached the city council in 2012. Back in 2012, the city remarked that it looked forward “to resolving this matter in an expeditious and responsible manner."

The FFRF and its local member claimed in their April 2016 lawsuit that the cross violated the separation of Church and State enshrined in the U.S Constitution because it was located in a public park. Following the removal of the cross, the FFRF’s attorney Rebecca Markert commented, “We are happy that the city divested itself of this religious symbol, and that the constitution is now being complied with.”

City council members stated that a compromise was necessary, with council member Teresa O’Neil saying, “Some people feel like we've caved in or succumbed to the arguments of a relatively small number of people, but as I said, they do have a number of legal precedents on their side.”

FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor expressed her views after the cross had been removed, saying, “It's a very rational way to begin the New Year — sending a strong message of support of the wall of separation between religion and government. Reason and the Constitution have prevailed."

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