Atheist Group Urges Fire Dept. to Remove ‘Blatantly Unconstitutional’ Cross From Fire Station Lawn

Photo Credit: Google Earth

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – A prominent atheist group is demanding that a fire department in Georgia take down a cross that has stood outside of one of their fire stations for more than a decade.

Catoosa County Fire Department serves a district in far northwestern Georgia, just across the state line from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Outside of the department’s Fire Station 3 in Graysville stands a large cross that is visible from a nearby highway. Imagery from Google Earth shows that the cross has stood there for more than 10 years.

However, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is now demanding that the cross be taken down. In a press release issued on Wednesday, the Wisconsin-based atheist group said they sent a letter to the district’s fire chief, explaining why they believe the cross is “blatantly unconstitutional.”

“The religious significance of the Latin cross is unambiguous and indisputable,” FFRF stated. “An overwhelming majority of federal courts agree that the Latin cross universally represents the Christian religion, and only the Christian religion. And a majority of federal courts have held displays of Latin crosses on public property to be an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.”

“The cross displayed at Fire Station 3 unabashedly creates the perception of government endorsement of Christianity,” it added. “It also conveys the message to the 30 percent of Americans who are not Christian, including the 23 percent who are not religious, that they aren’t ‘favored members of the political community,’ to quote the U.S. Supreme Court.”

A local resident reportedly notified the FFRF of the cross, also advising that it includes a Christian message about being saved.

“An essential service such as the fire department should not be seen as playing religious favorites,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor remarked. “Such a display of bias fuels public alienation from our government.”

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This is not the first time the Wisconsin-based atheist group has taken issue with religious displays at fire stations. Fire departments in New York, South Carolina, Washington and Texas have all received similar complaints from the FFRF.

“The cross has an exclusionary effect, making non-Christian and non-believing residents of Georgia into political outsiders,” wrote FFRF attorney Rebecca Markert in the letter FFRF sent to the Catoosa County Fire Department. “We ask you to remove the cross from Fire Station 3 immediately and to ensure no religious iconography or messages are displayed on public property in the future.”

As previously reported, FFRF has actively sought to remove similar crosses from government properties nationwide. Earlier this year in Santa Clara, California, officials removed a 14-foot cross from a public park after FFRF filed a lawsuit against the city. In Pensacola, Florida, a federal judge ruled last month that a 25-foot cross display in a public park was unconstitutional.

Elected officials in other cities have pushed back against the FFRF’s demands. As previously reported, city officials in Longwood, Florida said in March that they had no intention of removing a cross memorial from their city hall after receiving a complaint from the FFRF. Similarly, officials in Neosho, Missouri, recently refused the atheist group’s request to remove a cross display from a public park.


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  • Trilemma

    Unless the cross is a memorial to a fallen Christian firefighter, it will have to go.

    • InTheChurch

      As of right now, thanks to you, it just became a memorial. LOL

      • https://disqus.com/home/channel/atheismftw/ Ian Cooper

        Do you have the records to prove it was installed as a memorial?

        • InTheChurch

          Dude, it was a joke. That is why I put the LOL at the end.

          • Bob Johnson

            Because it can easily be read as, “Ha Ha Ha. Thanks for the idea. That is what can be done, we will claim it is a memorial.”

          • InTheChurch

            I see your point but, who is listening to me? I’m a dude on a forum.

    • Sister Boogie

      Idiot

  • InTheChurch

    FFRF will send one of their drivers to remove it.

  • https://disqus.com/home/channel/atheismftw/ Ian Cooper

    It doesn’t matter how long it’s been there – ten years or 250 years – if it’s a religious symbol on public land, it’s there illegally and it will have to go. The FFRF doesn’t go looking for this kind of illegal installation – they have to get a complaint from someone in the local community before they act.

    • bowie1

      But the US Constitution says that they may not prohibit the free expression thereof so the FFRF is being unconstitutional and breaking the law.

      • Seth

        Citizens may freely express their religious views. The fire station is a government facility, not a citizen’s personal property.

        • bowie1

          I don’t think the constitution has a restriction on where it can be expressed only that they cannot force another person to accept it.

          • Seth

            Are you suggesting that any person can place any religious icon on any public property?

          • bowie1

            I assume there is an application process and then it gets approved or not.

          • Netizen_James

            Incorrect. The ‘establishment’ clause prohibits *government* from expressing or endorsing any religion. Period. If this were a statue of a Star of David, or a big Muslim Crescent and Star, or a statue of Baphomet or Baal or Ra or Odin, would that be ok? No? Then neither is a cross.

        • Reason2012

          No law was passed forcing any fire station to put up such a cross – nor can any law be passed forcing them NOT to.
          That’s liberty.
          That’s freedom.
          That’s the United States of America.

          • Seth

            Sorry, it’s neither freedom nor liberty when the government promotes one religious viewpoint to the exclusion of all others. Or like i asked bowie, are you in favor of an open forum where any person can place any icon on any public property?

          • Reason2012

            The government’s not promoting it. Please show the law that was passed establishing this government mandating that fire fighters put up a cross at all their fire stations.

            If the majority of fire-fighters at a station are atheists, then they’re free to put up a statue of a fish at that fire-station and claim that’s their cousin. That’s how liberty, freedom and the United States of America works.

            PS Please cite your posts on all the articles pointing out how islam is taught in public school, expressing your outrage at the government cannot “promote one religious viewpoint to the exclusion of all others”. Fact is you can’t cite any, which shows the only problem atheists like you have is not with religious viewpoints in general, but only Christianity.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            PS Please cite your posts on all the articles pointing out how islam is taught in public school, expressing your outrage at the government cannot “promote one religious viewpoint to the exclusion of all others”

            When that happens, we will.

          • Reason2012

            Others will google public school islam and see that it is, also seeing how you lie about it. For that I thank you.

          • Netizen_James

            No, it’s not. If the majority of firefighters were Satanists, and put up a statue of Baphomet on government property with you taxdollars, you’d have a cow and you know it.

          • Reason2012

            Yes, we’d have a problem with people whose goal is to mock Christianity putting up a statue that’s designed to mock Christ / Christians.

            Since you imply you’re an atheist, please cite your posts on the countless different news sites that are reporting with greater frequency how kids are being taught all about islam in public schools.

          • https://disqus.com/home/channel/atheismftw/ Ian Cooper

            Clearly you don’t understand how the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment to the US Constitution works. But there’s an easy way for you to figure it out. Watch what happens to the cross. This time next year it won’t be there.

          • Reason2012

            Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech,

            Congress shall make no law means means Congress shall make no law, and no law has been made forcing fire stations to put up a cross. So where’s the violation?

            Congress shall make no law PROHIBITING the free exercise of religion means Congress shall make no no law PROHIBITING the free exercise thereof and hence it CANNOT be illegal to have free exercise of religion except where militant islamists posing as atheists give their permission. So there can’t be a law that prohibits a fire station putting up a cross – hence it’s not ILLEGAL for it to be there.

            Please cite your posts denouncing islam being taught in public schools. Activists like you never do because you have no problem with islam being taught with greater frequency in public schools but rage at a cross at a fire station, which shows you’re really pro-islam activists posting as atheists against religion.

            It also shows you know God’s truth is Christ / the cross, as you rage against the cross but couldn’t care less that the religion that’s responsible for the death of your countrymen continues to take off here in America, being taught to everyone else’s kids and grandkids.

            And yes, activist judges violate America’s Constitutional rights with greater frequency – case in point when Obamacare went to the supreme court where democrats claimed the fine was not a new tax, but it was a fine, and a supreme court judge lied and claimed it was a tax so that he could “pass” it as being constitutional. It shows we have more and more activist judges that pretend others do not understand the Constitution as they violate American’s rights with greater frequency, free exercise of religion being another such right.

          • Guzzman

            You wrote, “No law was passed forcing any fire station to put up such a cross.”
            You are mistaken about the First Amendment only applying to legislature. The Constitution forbids not only laws, but government actions that “aid one religion . . . or prefer one religion over another,” but also those actions that “aid all religions” and thus endorse or prefer religion over nonreligion. Everson, 330 U.S. at 15. See Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 53 (1985).

            A Christian cross erected on government property quite obviously gives governmental preference to Christianity over all other religions and disfavors those who practice no religion. Such a government action is plainly unconstitutional.

            By your thinking, a government entity could endeavor to erect a 40-foot tall monument to Molech on government property, and that would be constitutional according to you, because the government did so without passing a “HB-666 Praise Molech to the Highest” statute.

          • Reason2012

            The Constitution forbids not only laws, but government actions that “aid one religion . . . or prefer one religion over another,”

            Please cite where that is in the Constitution, which of course exposes that as the unconstitutional lie that it is.

            And forcing every government worker and organization to adhere to atheism and pretend to worship nothing like atheists do is by your own definition a violation of the very rule (that doesn’t exist) that you claim to follow. To force all government organizations to censor free exercise of religion is another violation of the Constitution.

            And since you claim to care that government “aiding one religion” is a problem, please cite a post from you on the growing number of articles that exposes islam being taught in our public schools with greater frequency.

            You can’t, because activists like you are really pro-islam, anti-Christian activists posing as atheists, raging at a cross while islam is being taught to everyone else’s kids and grandkids with greater frequency.

          • Netizen_James

            That is what the ‘Establishment clause’ which is part of the first amendment, means.

            Here’s the whole thing:

            “The ‘establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever from they may adopt to teach or practice religion. ” (330 US 1)

            And no, despite the fear-mongering you may have heard, no public school in America is promoting and encouraging the students to convert to Islam, or forcing them to pray to Mohammed, or any of that nonsense. Got facts? Teaching students ABOUT various religions and religious traditions is perfectly fine. Government promotion of any religion or tenet as the ‘officially correct’ one, either directly or indirectly is not ok.

          • Reason2012

            Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

            No law was passed here forcing fire stations to put up a cross, so the Constitution was not violated.

            It cannot be illegal for them to have free exercise of religion, except where islamists say they can. So while pretending to be for the Constitution, you expose that you’re against it when it comes to Christianity.

            And no, despite the fear-mongering you may have heard, no public school in America is promoting and encouraging the students to convert to Islam,

            Thank you for proving you’re a pro-islam activist, as others will google public school islam and see that you’re simply lying.

          • Netizen_James

            No, others will google and find nothing indicating any such thing from any source other than known fake-news sites like brietbart and inforwars

          • Trilemma

            If the city had passed a law allowing or requiring a cross to be placed in front of a fire station, that law would be ruled unconstitutional and the cross would have to be removed. By allowing the cross to remain in front of the fire station, the city has an implicit law that is unconstitutional. The cross in front of the fire station is unconstitutional whether there’s an actual law that allows it or an implicit one. Either way, the cross in front of the fire station is unconstitutional and needs to be removed.

          • Reason2012

            There are no such things as “implicit laws”. Something’s either a law, or it’s not. Glad you admit there’s no law, but try to imply an “implicit” one.

            And the Constitution says Congress shall pass no laws PROHIBITING the free exercise of religion, hence such free exercise CANNOT be “illegal”

            Meanwhile please cite posts protesting islam being taught in more and more public schools. Activists like you never can, proving they are not really atheist activists, but pro-islam activists, raging at a cross, but not caring that everyone else’s kids and grandkids are being indoctrinated with islam in public schools.

          • Trilemma

            The power of judicial review is an implied power and therefore an implicit law.

            The free exercise of religion means you can believe what you want and worship where you want. It does not mean you can do whatever you want based on your beliefs. Laws have been passed to prevent the free exercise of religion for Mormons who want to practice polygamy. Laws have been passed to prevent the free exercise of religion for Jews who want to practice animal sacrifice. Laws have been passed to prevent the free exercise of religion for Muslims who want to kill infidels who refuse to convert. So, yes, free exercise CAN be illegal.

            Please cite an article about how Islam is being taught (not just being taught about) more and more in public schools and I’ll be glad to post a comment condemning the practice.

          • Reason2012

            The Constitution talks about laws, not what some try to call “implicit” laws. And as such it cannot be illegal for their free exercise of religion, as that would be a violation of the Constitution as well.

            Please cite an article about how Islam is being taught (not just being taught about) more and more in public schools and I’ll be glad to post a comment condemning the practice.

            Thank you for proving my point. You make it clear you have no problem with Islam being “taught”. Yet these same activists will rage against Christianity being “taught”. So much for your claim to be an atheist, which are against any religion being taught, while you’re only against Christianity and even defend islam being “taught”. Just need others to see how you activists are really islamists posing as atheists.

          • 98C3LCMT9Y4

            That unconstitutional – but thanks for confirming that you are ignorant of our Constitution and that you really have no intention of learning anything about that great document.

          • Reason2012

            Feel free to show where the Constituion says laws can be passed prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

            Please show your posts on the growing number of articles where they point out islam is being taught in public schools. Activists never can. Thank you for confirming your disdain for our Constitution and your love of islam.

          • 98C3LCMT9Y4

            Your lying statement is NOT what that ruling was about, hypocritical & bigly cowardly & lying NOT REALLY A “christian” piece of orange filth.

          • Netizen_James

            No law exists which AUTHORIZES the government fire department to endorse or promote religion. As such, any such endorsement is unauthorized, and therefor illegal. Any law passed attempting to create such authorization would be unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause.

          • Reason2012

            Which proves the Constitution was not violated, since “Congress did not make of any law respecting an establishment of religion”.

            It is also illegal to demand what you promote, that a law be passed prohibition on the free exercise of religion,”

    • Jason Todd

      How is it there illegally? And don’t tell me what some moron in a black robe said. I want you to tell me how it is there illegally based on what the Constitution says.

      • https://disqus.com/home/channel/atheismftw/ Ian Cooper

        The “morons” in the black robes decide how the Constitution applies to modern law. If you don’t accept that, it’s no wonder you won’t understand why the cross will be removed.

        • Jason Todd

          Baloney. The Constitution has always allowed for religious freedom and expression. Judges think the exact and total opposite.

          And so I ask again: What in the Constitution makes this illegal?

          • Netizen_James

            So you think the Constitution allows government to promote one religion as the ‘officially correct’ one? Where are you seeing that? Do note that only PEOPLE have rights. Governments do not have rights. Governments have the authority to do X when We The People cede that authority to government in a constitution. If We The People never GAVE government that authority, then they don’t have it. So – show me where We The People gave the government the authority to promote Christianity by erecting Christian symbols on government property. What – you can’t do that? So if government is doing something that We The People never authorized it to do, what does that mean?

          • Jason Todd

            So you think the Constitution allows government to promote one religion as the ‘officially correct’ one?

            What are you talking about? A judge said that.

            The Constitution says Congress cannot create its own religion nor keep people from practicing theirs. Christianity can’t be created because it existed some 1400 years before this nation did.

            For the love of Pete, get a bloody US History book from before 1990 and get educated.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            I’m not sure what a history book that would necessarily omit the last 27 years of history is supposed to accomplish, nor do I understand where your belief comes from that history books from before 1990 contain a different understanding of constitutional jurisprudence than later ones.

            More to the point, the concept of judicial review is not controversial. I don’t think I can make this clearer to the users of this site, but lawyers do not sit around second-guessing court rulings. We cite the ones that support our cite, and distinguish the ones that don’t. There is no discussion, anywhere except certain in far-right fringes of the Internet, of whether a court ruling has to be followed or not. This is simply not a concept that exists in law.

  • mensajohn

    The mindless proponents of having the cross on the fire station property probably could find someone next door to display the cross very close to the fire station but probably insist that it actually has to be prominently on their property or God would not protect them.

  • Amos Moses – He>i

    next they will want SPF 10000 for the sunlight that burns their skin ………….

  • Reason2012

    Do not be deceived: FFRF is not really about freedom from religion – google public school islam and read all about the growing number of cases where islam is being taught to all the kids and FFRF does nothing, but of course goes into a rage over a cross. They are really pro-islam, anti-Christian, anti-America activists posing as atheists sot hey can get away with their jiihad against Christianity while islam picks up steam in more and more public schools.

    • Christopher Plumb

      Amen, it’s always about them attacking Christianity wherever they see it but you will never ever hear of them doing anything to do with Islam

      • Christopher Plumb

        They really need prayers for all of them because the really sad thing is that they’re going to be having all of eternity to think about them removing , fighting the cross

        • Shane Egan

          The FFRF has fought against Islamic infringements, just not as many. The reason – because the vast majority of these illegal promotion of religion in the U.S are Christians who continue to try to make their views the law of the land. The founding fathers were had recent knowledge of Europe where only a few decades before Christians had been slaughtering each other over sectarian differences. They hated that and wanted to avoid it occurring again.

          If the local Satanic temple wanted to put up a giant statue of Satan on the courthouse would you object? Why? If it’s because you favour your religion over all others then you are exactly the sort of person the Founding Fathers wanted to stop.

  • Guzzman

    When I first saw the photo of the county fire station, I thought there was a mix-up because the huge cross in front of the station made me think this was a photo of a church, not a fire station.

    The Christian cross is on government property and is therefore subject to the provisions of the First Amendment prohibiting government endorsement of a religion. “Blatantly unconstitutional” is putting it mildly.

  • Reason2012

    When I see organization that censors free exercise of religion, I thought there was a mix-up because it made me think this was a photo of an atheist organization in a third world country, not a fire station in the United States of America expressing it’s historical heritage by choice at this one fire station. “Blatantly unconstitutional” is putting it mildly.

    • 98C3LCMT9Y4

      And you appear to be too BLIND to “see” that your ignoance of our great Constitution is your “problem.”

      Too bad that you just can’t seem to NOT continue to stomp all over that commandment to NOT bear false witness! What a bigly pile of orange excrement you & your ilk appear to be – hating our Constitution & system of laws!

      • Reason2012

        Your hate shows you’re feeling defensive and hence find the point valid. Please feel free to cite your posts denouncing islam being taught in public schools – you cannot, which exposes your disdain for America and the Constitution: a pro-islam activists pretending to be atheist and pretending to care for our country.

        • 98C3LCMT9Y4

          I am a conservative who supports our great Constitution. I have no knowledge [and you are both too ignorant & too bigly a liar to actually have any PROOF that “islam” is actually being taught in public school] and most certainly will not LIE when demanded to do so by a hypocritical bigoted piece of orange excrement such as you.

          What a pitiful example of “good chrisitan” you are: lying & wanting others to lie because you are too cowardly to accept that your attack on our Constitution is unacceptable by rational humans.

        • Ambulance Chaser

          OK: I denounce Islam being taught in public schools. Now can you knock it off with this relative privation red herring?

          • Reason2012

            So in other words you cannot show any posts from you on countless articles on countless different news sites pointing out how islam is being taught in public schools. This shows you actually do not care that islam is being taught in school, you’re really not against religion being promoted and instead are only attacking Christianity. Just wanted to clear that up.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            No, it shows that no one has presented any credible evidence that Islam is being taught in public schools. If I see any, I’ll denounce it.

  • parquet

    This is NOT establishment of a national religion.

    Stand up to these crybullies, they are anti-religious bigots who need to be put in their place, back in the sewer.

    • Ambulance Chaser

      The courts agree with FFRF.

    • Reason2012

      Ask these anti-Christian zealots to show their posts denouncing islam being taught with greater and greater frequency in public schools – they won’t, some will lie that it’s not happening, showing they’re not atheists, but instead pro-islam activists pretending to be atheists.

      • mensajohn

        I detest any religious or non religious indoctrination in schools or courtrooms ( or anywhere else) as it is not their place to dictate or a promotion of religion. What if there was a promotion of say Satanism or atheism think of the outcry that would elicit! If you give one religion special privileges in government you have to do it for all. Christianity can be practiced anywhere else and even there in certain contexts but not as seen as an endorsement of any particular religion or non religion even implicitly.

        • Reason2012

          Hello. “Anywhere else (except where atheists give permission)” is not freedom. If the vast majority in an area want to celebrate our heritage, that’s freedom. If the vast majority do not, that’s freedom.

          Secondly, atheists promote their fish to mankind belief system in all classrooms to everyone’s kids and grandkids. Does that bother you?

          • mensajohn

            You really do not want government involved in religion.. before you know it the government will make it a crime to have a religion that doesn’t favor the government at least economically – the hell with what you believe. Just because one religion is not favored over the others regardless of what the majority believe doesn’t favor nonreligious/atheism which incidentally will be the majority fairly soon if the present trends continue. The majority isn’t always right.

          • Reason2012

            See the moment government passes laws forcing a state religion, THAT is when they violate the Constitution. But individuals at different meetings can decide among themselves on a case by case basis how they want to open.

            And again: atheists promote their fish to mankind belief system in all classrooms to everyone’s kids and grandkids. It’s forced. No option.
            Does that bother you?

          • mensajohn

            That was not true in Dubuque, Iowa when I was growing up. You also had the choice of numerous Catholic schools reasonably priced. However, if something was to be pushed it would technically be the most fair as it does not promote one religion over another. Additionally there are not many facts that you could argue with under atheism. Evolution is not inherently an atheistic position though a lot of atheists believe in it. All atheism is is a non belief in any gods or god. You might even have a few that have a belief in a world wide flood (non god caused).

          • Reason2012

            Evolution is anti-science atheist belief being pushed off as science. And it’s a belief system based on the idea that there was no God. Those who believe in God have been fooled into thinking fish to mankind evolution is science and true and hence try to somehow twist God’s Word to include it.

          • mensajohn

            There a a lot of people who people in god and evolution.

  • Stinger

    A free and open society tolerates things that do no harm. So shut up about the cross.

  • 0pus

    Since they have so much money on hand, let these bigots pay for the removal of these monuments. Certainly no reason that the removal should be paid for by people who do NOT object to it being there. That would be a serious injustice. You feel so strongly about getting rid of it, you pay the bill.

  • Reason2012

    It’s just a cross – they’re not even promoting Christianity, but as some like to say how “all religions lead to God”, this cross is hence promoting all religions.

  • Chet

    Simply ignore the caterwauling of FFFR and maintain your cross…

  • EDWARD MIKAN

    Get lost anti religonists!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    u s army veteran , veterans of foreign wars , american legion , secure america now , amac ,
    mercy for animals member & many others & college graduate!!!!