Associated Press Writer

COLUMBIA, S.C. - A group that supports the separation of religion and state wants a cross removed from in front of a Charleston fire station that city officials say honors nine firefighters killed battling a furniture store blaze.

The fight over the cross extends from a battle the Freedom from Religion Foundation had with the city last December when the group complained about a nativity scene in front of the same fire station. Officials added secular decorations, including snowmen, to comply with the law.

Most of the decorations came down by the new year, but the cross stayed up, the city saying it was now a memorial to the firefighters killed in June 2007, said Rebecca Markert, a lawyer for the foundation.

The foundation didn't buy the explanation, sending a letter last week to the city threatening to sue if the cross is not removed because it violates the U.S. Constitution by endorsing a specific religion. The group also said for the past five years the same cross had been removed at the same time as the Christmas items.

"We believe it is a sham to say it is now part of a permanent memorial when before it was being put up and taken down in December as part of Christmas," Markert said Tuesday.

The cross rests near a stone memorial with the names of the nine Charleston firefighters killed as they fought a blaze at the Sofa Super Store.

Lawyers for the city told officials it was a legal display because it is a secular emblem of death.

"The message communicated by the cross is clearly one of honoring fallen firefighters and not of furthering a religious purpose," lawyers for the city said in a news release.

The letter from the foundation gave the city a May 14 deadline to take down the cross.


Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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The International Volunteer Firefighters Association of Hell?
Mr Borg, It's a sad day when you show no respect for fallen brothers. Yes, the cross is a symbol of Christianity. It's existence has been around much longer than you or I or even Christ himself. I'm sorry that you experience people "ramming" it down your throat.
The truth of the matter is you and the attorney Rebecca Markert (representative of Freedom From Religion) are the minority.
If we are to stop placing crosses on fire stations, schools, churches...then you shouldn't be allowed to wear the maltese cross on your uniform. It also represents a "religious" symbol.
Have respect for the majority and stop "ramming" your ignorence down my throat.

I don't think anyone said race had anything to do with anything (other than an example I used with regard to a person's comment on "majority rules."

Religion, on the other hand has indeed had a significant part in persecution throughout the world. Methinks your bias is showing somewhat.
But yet you mock religion using religious icons (Mohammed and Jesus) on the dashboard of your fire engine?

It seems to me that you are making a statement yourself, and using public property to display your personal dismay for organized religion. This is not the place to make religious statements whether they be pro or con.

As for brotherhood, a recent internet poll queried folks to define the word brotherhood. This is what won:

a united front of men who stand together, fight together, and are loyal together for their country, for their rights, and for their freedom

If the Charleston firefighters want to display a cross, then shouldn't they be allowed the freedom of expression? Sure seems like all the other special interest groups get to push the envelope without reprise, including mocking religion the way you did using a fire truck dashboard, or maybe you did that to just be funny or to push your own personal agenda?

I have a hard time understanding such negative feelings coming from anyone. My personal opinion is that one way or the other as long as one does not cross the boundaries of decency and mutual respect will it really ever matter.

And for the record, one of my favorite places to commune with my god is on public property in the form of a national park here in the USA. I will continue to humble myself and stand in awe of some of the most awesome natural wonders that keep me grounded and in touch with my personal religious beliefs (and on public property!).
If it was placed as a memorial I stand with them to defend it....these men gave their all for the cause...if this is how they are to be remembered then so be it.....
Sir, if everyone were fortunate enough to possess philosophies like yours, this world would be a much better place. Thank you very much.
I surely hope they don't remove the cross. I agree with many people on this blog, when do we Christians have a right to show what we believe? We make an effort, we bend over backwards to not offend other religions by incorporating their symbols, but let a cross show up and all of a sudden we're violating everyone's rights. If this Fire Dept. wants to honor their fallen brethren with a cross, let them do it. Just because there is a cross there doesn't mean that the city is trying to force a religion on anyone or that the fire department is requiring individuals to come under their beliefs before they will come fight your fire, they're simply expressing their grief and remembrance in way they feel best honors their fallen brothers, so leave them alone.
So much for the extremists who practice stereotyping all Muslims as being terrorists... Shareef shares his insight and opinion using common sense and intelligence and displays both compassion and willingness to celebrate what being a US citizen is all about... freedom. I hope others read his reply and remember that we all have to be tolerant and fair to others. I am honored to have Shareef as one of my friends.

I would like to say that even many non - christians do not have a problem with the display of a cross. I am pagan and i say let it stay as Mr. Cowan said the four armed cross is much older than the cristian religion it represents equilibrium in all things. It has become a symbol of remembrance in our modern society. Once again let it stay and may the gods be with the fallen.

I don't think anyone said race had anything to do with anything (other than an example I used with regard to a person's comment on "majority rules."

Religion, on the other hand has indeed had a significant part in persecution throughout the world. Methinks your bias is showing somewhat."


Me thinks like the majority of people (normal) think, that was my point. We shouldn't all have to bend to your warped and paranoid view of the world. We're not talking about mudering people, enslaving people etc. it's just a memorial, lighten up!

Without absolutely any intention or desire to insult Shareef, he sounds practically christian (or what I think christians should sound like). Others need to follow his calm, rational and compassionate line of thinking.
A large number of headstones at Arlington National Cemetary have crosses engraved on them...... Are those next? Do they have to be removed in relation to the seperation of religion and government? This is a national cemetary funded by the government; somebody tell me what the difference is?

I cannot believe that someone would complain about this. Take a survey of the residants of Charleston and see if they care. Leave the cross alone!

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