Atheist group wins battle to pull cross from public park after threatening lawsuit

A California city has removed a 14-foot tall granite cross from a public park after receiving a legal complaint from a local man and the nation's largest atheist group.

Santa Clara officials removed the large cross last week following legal action by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, donating it to Santa Clara University, a Jesuit academic institution.


FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a statement released Tuesday that with Santa Clara's decision "reason and the Constitution have prevailed."

"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," Gaylor asserted.

In 1953, the Santa Clara Lion's Club donated the cross to Santa Clara as a way to honor the the site of the second Spanish Catholic mission established in the city in 1777.

In 2012, the FFRF was informed about the cross's presence on the grounds of the public park and sent a letter to the city demanding its removal, only to have the cross remain where it had been since 1953.

Last April, the FFRF sued the city on behalf of a local man named Andrew DeFaria. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division.

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