New Jersey Borough Agrees Not to Restore ‘Religious’ Veterans Display in Settlement With Humanist Group

ROSELLE PARK, N.J. — A New Jersey borough has agreed not to restore what was deemed a religious veterans display to the lawn of the public library in order to settle a lawsuit filed by a nationally-recognized humanist organization.

On May 4, Roselle Park council members voted to approve Resolution 142-17, “Authorizing a Settlement Agreement in the Matter of American Humanist Association v. Borough of Roselle Park.”

“This lawsuit was about ensuring that the government must refrain from … religious favoritism, and we’re glad that in the end the Constitution prevailed,” David Niose, the director of the American Humanist Association’s (AHA) Appignani Legal Center, asserted in a statement announcing the settlement on Thursday.

AHA’s motto is “Good Without a God,” and describes humanism as “a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.”

As previously reported, AHA sent a letter last summer to Mayor Carl Hokanson to demand that a silhouette of a soldier kneeling before a cross grave marker be removed. Hokanson had purchased the cutout with his personal money and donated it to the public library as a memorial to fallen soldiers.

“Though apparently intended as a recognition of fallen military personnel, the display favors and endorses Christianity by suggesting that the government honors the service and sacrifice of Christian soldiers to the exclusion of others,” the correspondence, written by attorney Monica Miller, read. “If your government wishes to recognize fallen military personnel through a display, it must do so in a religiously neutral manner.”

AHA threatened litigation if its demands for removal were not met.

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It advised that the organization had received a complaint from local resident Gregory Storey about the silhouette, as he was unhappy that borough officials had not heeded his concerns. According to NJ Advance Media, Storey is married to council member Charlene Storey, who resigned for a time in December 2015 to show her opposition to another religious matter.

“While this may be acceptable in a memorial placed on church or other private grounds, it is unacceptable in memorials placed on public property,” Storey wrote to Hokanson. “It singles out one religion and amounts to an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion.”

Hokanson disagreed. He opined to the Union News that it is rather a mission of the Storeys to eliminate Christian symbols from public life.

“Here we go again,” he said. “As a former Marine, I respect all fallen comrades. The symbol is to recognize that honoring the valor and coverage of those who fought for liberty with a widely recognized symbol of sacrifice does not violate the constitution.”

“The people are tired of [Council member Storey] injecting her poison into this community,” Hokanson stated. “She brings in these atheists to sue me. When I support my vets, I support all vets.”

In September, AHA followed through with its threat, suing Roselle Park leadership in an effort to obtain a permanent injunction against the display, as well as nominal damages for the borough’s alleged violation of the “separation of Church and State” and the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Shortly thereafter, council members voted 5-0 to remove the silhouette. This month, in order to settle the lawsuit, it was agreed not to restore the memorial or erect any similar displays in the future.

Roselle Park officials have not commented on the settlement.

As previously reported, in a recent dissenting opinion in a New Mexico Ten Commandments case, 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Judges Paul Kelly, Jr. and Chief Judge Timothy Tymkovich noted that the Establishment Clause is being interpreted incorrectly and not in “the historical understanding of an ‘establishment of religion,’ and thus with what the First Amendment actually prohibits.”

They explained that “[e]stablishment was … the norm in the American Colonies. Exclusive Anglican establishments reigned in the southern states, whereas localized Puritan establishments were the norm in New England, except in Rhode Island.”

This began in Europe, “the continent of origin for most American colonists,” Kelly outlined. “[E]ach country had long established its own state church—a generalized version of cuius regio, eius religio—over which each government exercised varying degrees of control. Germany and Scandinavia had official Lutheran establishments; Holland, a Reformed state church; France, the Gallican Catholic Church; Ireland, the Church of Ireland; Scotland, the Church of Scotland; and so on.”

Therefore, the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution regarding “respecting an establishment” only referred to showing favoritism to one state establishment over another, and solely applied to the federal government.

“From the words of the text, though, two conclusions are relatively clear: first, the provision originally limited the federal government and not the states, many of which continued to support established churches; and second, the limitation respected only an actual ‘establishment of religion,’” the federal judges outlined.


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  • Grace Kim Kwon

    If Americans so chicken out, maybe today’s America is not worthy of keeping all the noble monuments and noble displays. Christian Americans’ contributions are planted into the global Christians’ hearts forever. History cannot be erased just as the evidences for God’s direct creating acts are. Their records never get lost even in the outer space. Remembrance and gratitude to the Christian Americans is for-ever. Jesus Christ is their Saviour and Lord.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    America’s nobility and greatness is from Christianity.

    • johndoe

      Wrong, wrong, wrong. You just don’t get what America is about. America’s nobility and greatness comes straight from Americans. No religion needed

      • Amos Moses

        need a history lesson ……….. you are wrong on so many levels ………

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        America has only Christianity as its conscience, educator, and religion. America has no other and ever will. That’s why Ex-christian America persecutes the Christians for refusing the infanticide and Sodomy. Morality is the first casuality in the Post-christian West. Then respect. Then freedom and fairness. Then sanity. You need the Holy Bible to be saved and become human again.

        • Tannim

          You need a history lesson on Solon.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            Western Civilization has nothing good apart from Christianity. You guys must stop attacking something so good and excellent and supernatural and vital.

    • zenlike

      Including the genocide it conducted on native populations, and slavery, amongst others.

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        The Natives conducted genocide against the European tribes, too. Wars were on all sides. Slavery has been mankind’s usual business everywhere and the Christian Britain and Christian America alone abolished it. Americans don’t know the outside world and that’s why they say the stuff you do. Wait until China claims the American continent saying the Natives are Mongoloids – the same blood with the Chinese. Perv childless species disappear naturally from the planet.

        • zenlike

          Citations needed for, well, everything.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            Read the world history and US history entirely.

          • zenlike

            So you got nothing.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            Read the Holy Bible to find how to get saved. John 3. Secular Westerners love the Eastern spirituality because they want to continue their chaotic immorality without thinking about the reality of condemnation and for no other reason.

          • zenlike

            Yawn. Read it, rejeted it as unsupported nonsense. You got nothing.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            You need Christianity for salvation and a pure life. Secular Westerners should not insult the Eastern religions by living out immorality and claiming false names. Non-christian Westerners’ real religion is sexual depravity and nothing else. Sodomlike is their right name. Romans 1. Jude 1.

        • Tannim

          You are so clueless…

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            Haters of the American colonists should go back to their own European caves. All of them.

    • Tannim

      Wrong. It’s from freedom.

      There is little nobility or greatness from any mythology, let alone one that sanctions war and murder and theft in its name.

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        Mankind did not know freedom apart from the Judeo-Christian truth. You guys are too well-fed to remember any history properly. Read Psalm 119 and John 8-10.

  • Mr Cleats

    Considering that most human beings who ever lived on earth had some form of religion, “humanist” is not the right word – maybe “anti-humanist” or “inhumanist” would be more accurate.

    • johndoe

      Citation please.

      • Mr Cleats

        Not my day to feed trolls.
        Next opening is February 30, 2036.

        • Parodyx

          I, too, would like to see a citation. And I’m not a troll.

          • TheLastHonestLawyer

            Add me to that list.

    • Colin Rafferty

      It’s not about being against this particular religion, but about the State singling out this religion for special honor. And humanism is not about being anti-religious, but putting the priority on people first.

      What the AHA did was not anti-religious at all. They were, in fact, defending all religions that were not represented.

      • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        Secular humanism was ruled a religion in 1965.

        • Colin Rafferty

          So what? They are not secular humanists, but humanists.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            What do you think humanists are but secular? 🙂

          • Colin Rafferty

            St. Thomas More would disagree about all humanists being secular.

            But there is a distinction, and some people call themselves “secular humanists”, and some people call themselves “humanists”.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            The legal definition shows them to be one and the same.

          • Colin Rafferty

            Really, there’s a legal definition of humanism? I always thought we defined concepts using a dictionary. Humanism places prime importance on human matters rather than divine, but does not inherently deny the divine. Secular humanism does deny it.

            At least, that’s the definitions that everyone else uses. So if you’re going to criticize something based on your personal definition, that won’t hold water.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            You don’t know the significance of a legal definition, do you?

          • Colin Rafferty

            You still haven’t told me the “legal definition”. Just that one exists. Do you have a link? Or can you just tell me what you think it is.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            It’s on the other thread. It’s from Toscano v Watkins. I am not talking about how secular humanism has been defined, but that it is legally defined as a religion.

          • Colin Rafferty

            I never disagreed with that. You claimed that humanism and secular humanism are the same. They are not.

            You said, “The legal definition shows them to be one and the same.” Have you changed your mind?

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Did you look up Toscano v Watkins?

          • Colin Rafferty

            Are you claiming that Toscano said that humanism and secular humanism are the same things? Is that your assertion? Or are you trying to pretend we are talking about something else?

            You said they are the same thing. You even claim they are legally defined to be the same thing. And then you bring up an unrelated comment about whether secular humanism is a religion.

            Please stay on topic.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            He said that secular humanism is a religion. Do try and comprehend what you’re reading, Colin, or would you like to pretend you can teach me about Islam? 🙂

          • Parodyx

            He comprehends perfectly, it’s you who seems to be twisting things yet again. Stay on topic like you are being told.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            You’re hoping to be embarrassed again on the topic, aren’t you? 🙂

          • Parodyx

            You don’t possess the ability to do that.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Cry some more.

          • Parodyx

            You have extremely intelligent and reasonable people telling you that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Think about that.

          • Bob Johnson

            And scores of court decisions that refute his opinion of the law.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Oh the irony! 🙂

          • Colin Rafferty

            Are you this dishonest in real life, or only in the relative anonymity of a comment board? I have never disagreed about whether secular humanism is a religion. It is.

            Our discussion is about your statement that humanism and secular humanism are the same. You said: “The legal definition shows them to be one and the same.”

            You are wrong. And if you once again repeat that secular humanism is a religion, as though that’s what we’re talking about, we’re done. Because you’re a dishonest liar.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            You’re just bluffing at this point, like when you said I knew nothing about Islam. 🙂

            I told you that the legal definition is the same, and it is the same. Go look it up. And then cry some more like you did on the Islam thread. 🙂

          • Colin Rafferty

            Go ahead. Show me you are not a liar. Show me where humanism is defined to be a religion. Not secular humanism, but humanism. And if you want to quote Toscano, give me the quote about humanism. Not secular humanism, but humanism.

            You are a dishonest liar, and your response to this will prove it.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            I already cited you the court case. This has already been proven on another thread, so if you want to go over it again, be my guest. You’ll look as foolish as the guy with the pedophile avatar. 🙂

          • Colin Rafferty

            Yep, you proved it.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Yes, Torcaso v. Watkins. 🙂 Atheists and secular humanists are still whining about that one. 🙂

          • Ambulance Chaser

            I strongly doubt that. Torcaso held that it was unconstitutional for a state to require that a person profess a belief in a supreme being in order to hold a public office. I can’t think of a single atheist who would object to this, with the possible exceptions of Karl Rove and S.E. Cupp.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            You would be mistaken then. They’ve been fighting this ruling for years. 🙂 And S.E. Cupp is an art history major. She’s hardly an example of a legal eagle. 🙂

          • Ambulance Chaser

            Really? There are hordes of atheists out there angry that states can’t stop you from getting a government job for being an atheist?

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Ask them. As a lawyer, you should be familiar with the legal battle that’s been ongoing about atheism being labeled a religion. It’s because they know they won’t be able to push their religion of atheism forever under the guise of separation of church and state. 🙂

          • Ambulance Chaser

            I’m not aware of anyone who wants to push atheism under the guise of separation of church and state. For one thing because “separation of church and state” is not a legal principle and for another because it would be incredibly hypocritical.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            And yet it happens all the time.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            What school is teaching atheism?

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Practically every single public school.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            Okay well, if you’re not going to have this discussion, I guess we’re just not going to have it.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Because you’re clueless in how to dispute the undisputable.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            I’ll grant you that it’s indisputable, but not for the reason you’re thinking. Rather, it’s because you haven’t said anything concrete that can be assigned any truth value.

            Your complaint seems to be some vague, amorphous accusation directed at a large, poorly-defined group of people.

            I can’t dispute anything you say unless you say something of substance.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            You haven’t been following the conversation and for an alleged lawyer, you surely are ignorant of Torcaso and what that judgment means.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            For a guy who presumes to lecture lawyers about the law, you should probably stop misusing legal terminology, such as the word “judgment.”

            Also, why are you changing the subject? Are we discussing Torcaso, or school’s teaching atheism?

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            I’d recheck your legal definitions if you think I’ve misused anything. 🙂

          • Ambulance Chaser

            Okay, since you’re such a brilliant legal scholar, why don’t you tell us all what I’m wrong about? And this time, actually say something of substance?

          • Tannim

            SOCAS is indeed a legal principle. See also the First Amendment, Everson, and Blaine Amendments.

          • Colin Rafferty

            Yes, you proved that you are dishonest, because you keep claiming Torcaso proves that humanism and secular humanism are the same. Liar.

          • Parodyx

            This isn’t a liar so much as a troll. I am “the guy with the pedophile avatar” he talks about. Yep. A picture of two hot dogs. He even tried to report me for it.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            I quoted the ruling. How can a quote be dishonest? 🙂

          • TheLastHonestLawyer

            I did. Nowhere in the body of the decision was there a decree that secular humanism is a religion, just a footnote to Justice Black’s majority opinion that in some cases, secular humanists who meet regularly to share their beliefs could be considered religious entities for tax purposes.

            That’s it. There is no legal definition of secular humanist. You can search the US Code and Black’s Law Dictionary al you like. But you are hanging your hat on a discredited twisting of a minor footnote in a SCOTUS opinion, with no case law to support it.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Why are you answering for Colin? Are you the same person?

            The footnote of that case is significant enough to have been quoted in another more recent ruling. It stands.

          • TheLastHonestLawyer

            Still waiting for this amazing legal definition of secular humanism. Is there a legal definition of Christian in the US Code somewhere?

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            I dunno but there’s a definition of Christian by Jesus Christ. I think that would trump US code any time. 🙂

          • TheLastHonestLawyer

            Not in a court of law, it wouldn’t. And do you realize that you just torpedoed your own argument?

            There is no “legal definition” of Secular Humanism or any religion found in US law. So stop claiming that there is.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            You might want to stay au courant with what you’re claiming. 🙂

          • TheLastHonestLawyer

            It’s called an open forum, we can get you literature on that.

            OK, cite the ruling.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Odd how you responded to a question asked to him. Very odd.

            It’s in the other post and in detail on another thread.

          • TheLastHonestLawyer

            You, sir, have jumped into threads and replied to me on several occasions. It’s the nature of an open discussion. Anyone can reply to anyone.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            You might want to recheck the order of posts. 🙂 I’m not sure how many alts I’m dealing with here.

          • TheLastHonestLawyer

            Look, juist because you have decided to be Legion, doesn’t mean everyone else has. I’m just me, and honestly, given the brain damage, I couldn’t keep track of multiple accounts. So get over yourself.

          • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            So you’re using brain damage as the excuse for why you answer for another poster and copy his posts word-for-word?

          • TheLastHonestLawyer

            I have no idea what on Earth you are talking about.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            Neither does he.

          • Parodyx

            You’re in for a long discussion.

  • Georgie Franklin

    Sanity prevails.

    • Ben Welliver

      What do homosexuals know about sanity?

      • zenlike

        I know “the gay” is on your mind 24/7, but this has nothing to do with that.

      • TheLastHonestLawyer

        Where does the story mention sexual orientation?

  • Nidalap

    Ah, the “We give in to bullies.” response.
    A sad commentary on the current state of the nation…

    • zenlike

      The bullies are the christians who insist on public monuments only praising the christian veterans.

      • Nidalap

        Sorry, bub, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…
        Only one side here is using the threat of governmental force to get its way…

        • zenlike

          It was the government that displayed this monument. And using the courts is perfectly acceptable if the government goes against the constitution, as was the case here.

          • Nidalap

            Not at all. The Constitution states that Congress may no make any law establishing a religion.
            Folks that can’t get enough votes to make laws to achieve their goals tend to try to stretch the meanings of existing law to kind of halfway cover what they’re trying foist on the majority…

          • zenlike

            The SCOTUS says you are wrong. The constitution is there to protect the rights of all citizens, and to block a majority to foist their religion on all others.

          • Nidalap

            SCOTUS, SHMOTUS. They also ruled against Dred Scott, so I’m pretty sure even you’ll agree that they’ll make the wrong call now and again! 🙂
            Just because you’re in a minority, it doesn’t give you free reign to tear down anything that might offend you…

          • zenlike

            It doesn’t need to be torn down. The alternative is to open the place up as a public forum, so other religious groups can post their monuments.

          • Nidalap

            Orrrr…we could try just not giving in to bullying tactics in the first place.
            Yeah…sounds about right…

          • zenlike

            The bullies here are the persons wanting their religion having a privileged place over all others, and using governments to block others from having the same rights as them.

          • TheLastHonestLawyer

            And you would lose. Because there is already plenty of precedent on these kinds of cases.

          • TheLastHonestLawyer

            Yes, they did. And that decision stood until the 13th Amendment was ratified. See, before that, slavery was legal in about half the states. Under the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process clause the federal government had no right to take slaves from their owners in free states. The rest of the decision is horribly racist, but about par for the times.

            So ruling on the Constitution as it existed at the time, there was no other choice but to rule as they did.

            And yes, the Constitution does give minorities the right to petition for redress of grievances.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            If you were on the Court in 1857, how would you have ruled in Dred Scott and on what basis?

  • TheLastHonestLawyer

    I served in the U.S. Army as an Airborne Infantryman (11B1P). At the time, I was still a practicing Muslim. Luckily, my service was in peacetime, so I never had to face the prospect of coming home in a box and having my name engraved on a soldiers memorial.

    But I do know that soldiers come in all faiths and no faith at all. It is a grave insult to those gave the last full measure of devotion to their country while being Jewish, or Hindu, or Muslim, or any other faith to be lumped into the majority religious group.

    My oldest son is currently deployed on an aircraft carrier. He is proud of his service, and proud that his dog tags list his religion as Humanist. Should the worst happen, I’d fight to make sure that his name was on a memorial to all American service members, not just the comfortable majority.

    • 0pus

      Sounds fake.

      • TheLastHonestLawyer

        No, if it was fake, I would have claimed to be a Green Beret with 13 Purple Hearts and a super-secret Medal of Honor, while my son was Marine SEAL Ranger.

        Nope, I was a boring grunt, serving at Fort Bragg and in West Germany before deciding that the Army life wasn’t for me. I stayed in the California National Guard to help pay bills until I finished law school. I spent more time with a floor buffer than my M-16A1. Still, good times, and the US Government paid me to live in Germany for 18 months. Plus, I ravaged the Army Continuing Education program to get three years worth of a BA done in four years of active duty.

        You ever serve?

        • 0pus

          Glad you found some outlet for the degree in creative writing. Hope you enjoy working at Starbucks.

          • TheLastHonestLawyer

            I’m retired due to a stroke I suffered a few years ago. I get SSD and Medicare. My wife still works, so we’re doing OK.

            I loath Starbucks. Coffee should be simple.

            Did you ever serve your nation in uniform?

          • Ambulance Chaser

            If you were gonna make up a life story I’m pretty sure you’d have yourself doing more incredible and amazing things.

          • TheLastHonestLawyer

            Or at least made myself a nice WASP lawyer in a big firm. I used to love LA Law, I wanted to work in the legal world where you didn’t spend eight hours a day doing research and drafting letters and motions!

          • TheLastHonestLawyer

            Oh, and the degrees are a BA in Classical History and a JD with a focus on Criminal Law.

            Did you ever serve in the military?

          • Ambulance Chaser

            What is it about his story you think is false?

  • NCOriolesFan

    Roselle Park was 159 city council members. Wow.

  • James B

    What a bunch of Scumbags.

  • Tannim

    SOCAS means this: pure religious neutrality by government. No support, no restriction. No preference of one sect, denomination, or belief system over another.

    See also Everson v. Board.

    If you think otherwise, you’re doing it wrong.