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California Christians Fight Back Against City Removing Cross

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A Christian club in California is fighting to restore a cross that was removed from public display by the city. The cross had stood for over 50 years until an atheist group complained in 2016.

The city then seized the land through eminent domain and a court ordered the cross removed in 2023, citing complaints it was offensive and reminiscent of KKK symbols.

“Apparently, according to the Court, only a church or religious group has a right to free exercise of religion,” Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) stated, noting that the court “failed to recognize the Lions Club had a property right to display the cross, a right which the City recognized when it acquired the land.”

When taken down, the mayor celebrated calling it a privilege being removed.

However, the club argues the removal targeted Christians and violated free speech and religious protections.

“The city has actually put its money where its mouth is, and our city looks a little bit more accepting now in a way that we think is consistent with our values,” then-Mayor Aaron Tiedemann said.

“For the small local group of people that really want to see the cross stay, when you’ve had such privilege for so long, losing it feels like being oppressed,” Tiedemann said. “That’s going to be an adjustment for folks, but I think we will all get used to it, and I think it’s a real benefit.”

With help from a civil liberties group, the club has filed a petition claiming hostility toward the cross’s religious message.

The group plans to take the case to the Supreme Court if needed, arguing the city’s actions were blatantly discriminatory against Christians.

“The City’s public statements and actions have been hostile and targeted the Christian cross because [of] its religious message,” the petition reads. “The City Council lacked neutrality and attacked the cross and the Lions for its free exercise of religion and free speech.”

“We at PJI are committed to defending such constitutionally protected expression,” PJI founder and president Brad Dacus said.

“If there was a giant LGBT flag or something like that, this city would embrace it. No problem. So it’s specifically because of the viewpoint and the religious viewpoint and perspective of the cross. That’s their agenda,” he said.

“It is a vicious, blatant, anti-constitutional, discriminatory action by the City of Albany. And that’s what makes this case so shocking. You know, the city didn’t even hide it,” Dacus said, noting that he is “very optimistic with regard to the final outcome of this case.”

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