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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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No, that ain't it.
You're gonna have to spell it out then, I'm outta suggestions.
Ya didn't do it yet, so ya probably won't. (Ya couldn't have missed it, could ya?)
I have no idea but please, feel free to spell it out for me here. (Seriously, I'm not playing obtuse here.)
The post directly above "Jack, Don't!" It's not like you to let something like that go unchallenged. Your restraint is admirable.
The one above "Don't"? It seemed to me to be a well thought out, articulate, valid and archetypal point of view.
I guess you just can't help it what with me prodding you and all.
I can't win: I criticize someone's comment and I'm called on it; I complement someone's comment and I'm called on it.
I'm no lawyer, and can't even come close to playing one. However, I can look up things on the Internet specifically the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution where it does not state that a religious symbol could not be put on a public building.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

So where is this a violation of the first amendment? There is no law saying that the cross on the fire house has to be there nor is there a law prohibiting it. It is not ramming religion down anyone's throat.

That's my two and half cents and I hope the cross can stay.
Need a tissue?
Naw...I'm good, wiping my nose on my IAVFF crying towel.
All of the above.

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