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Thread: City Transfers Land Surrounding Cross to Private Foundation to Bring Closure

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    Veteran Member aboutenough's Avatar
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    City Transfers Land Surrounding Cross to Private Foundation to Bring Closure

    City Transfers Land Surrounding Cross to Private Foundation to Bring Closure to Complaint From Atheist Group


    NEOSHO, Mo. — A prominent professing atheist organization has expressed its skepticism after a Missouri city recently transferred a section of land surrounding an 80-year-old cross display to a private foundation in an effort to assuage the organization’s concerns about government endorsement of Christianity.
    “If the intent is to save the religious display, the purpose of the transfer is religious and could be considered a legally problematic sham remedy,” wrote the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) to the City of Neosho on Friday.
    As previously reported, FFRF first sent a letter in May to Mayor Ben Baker, stating that it had been informed by a complainant that a cross figure lies on the side of a hill in Big Spring Park, which is public property. It asserted that the figure violates the U.S. Constitution because its public location sends the message that the government endorses Christianity.

    “The government’s permanent display of a Latin cross on public land is unconstitutional,” the correspondence asserted. “The display of this patently religious symbol on public property confers government endorsement of Christianity, a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause.”

    It requested that the cross be removed from the park or moved to private property.
    However, once residents of Neosho heard about FFRF’s effort, many urged officials not to cave to the Church-State separation group. The cross has been in place since 1930 without complaint.
    “In fact, all day today I got texts and messages and e-mails and calls saying, ‘Stand strong. Keep the cross,’ and so that’s what we’re going to do,” Baker told Action 12 News.

    City council members agreed that steps should be taken to preserve the cross at the park.
    “It is the position of the city council that the correspondence forwarded by this organization was deficient in identifying authoritative case law within the Eighth Circuit, and is further of the opinion that, in fact, controlling case law would support the continued presence of the cross within the park,” the council said in a statement.
    “Therefore, it is the unanimous opinion of the city council that the City of Neosho will not remove the cross or take any other actions which in any way compromises the long standing history of our city,” it declared.
    On Wednesday, Steven Hays, an attorney for the City of Neosho, wrote a letter to FFRF to advise that officials had transferred the land surrounding the cross figure to a private organization in order to avoid a lengthy and expensive court battle.
    “Effective this date, the City of Neosho has transferred the ownership of the land at issue and contains the cross which had been the motivating factor of your foundation contacting the City of Neosho,” he wrote.
    “Following the findings of Salazar v. Buono, the City of Neosho has transferred the subject property to the Save Our Heritage Foundation, a private foundation, utilizing a fee simple conveyance with a conservation easement as prescribed by the laws of the state of Missouri,” Hays explained. “It is the position of the City of Neosho that the actions it has taken brings this matter to a close.”https://christiannews.net/2017/09/11...atheist-group/

    This is the best remedy I have ever heard of to settle a case like this with the FFRF. They file a complaint of a cross being on public property, then transfer ownership to the Heritage Foundation so its no longer public property. Problem solved
    The FFRF is besides themselves, they starting to give orders that the property has to be sold at fair value. Why does the city have to take orders from the FFRF? The city doesn't, they are just trying to bully the city into thinking they will still get sued. Ignore them, all government entities should donate their property that has religious displays to the Heritage foundation, so the FFRF is powerless. This is a great idea
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    Veteran Member aboutenough's Avatar
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    I guess no one challenges this idea. Great, its legal and the FFRF has been put in its place. They cannot remove crosses from property that is not public

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    Cat-tastic Babba's Avatar
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    "Without fences and disclaimers, the transfer does not relieve the continued perception of government endorsement," the release said.

    The nonprofit has submitted requests for information from Neosho, the release said.

    Freedom From Religion Foundation Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said in the news release, “Courts have uniformly held that governmental displays of Latin crosses — the principal symbol of Christianity around the world — are an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. They have no secular purpose and when placed on public property they send an unambiguous message that Christians are insiders and non-Christians are unfavored outsiders. The United States is a secular republic, not a ‘Christian nation.’"
    Giant cross park transferred by Neosho to avoid legal battle

    And I don't care if the majority of residents of the city want it to remain. That doesn't make it any more constitutional. The city needs to make it clear to anyone who sees the cross that the government has nothing to do with it.
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    Southern Strategy Liberal OldGaffer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aboutenough View Post
    I guess no one challenges this idea. Great, its legal and the FFRF has been put in its place. They cannot remove crosses from property that is not public
    Why do you want the government of all the people to endorse just the religion of part of the people?

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    Conservatively Liberal NiteGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aboutenough View Post
    I guess no one challenges this idea. Great, its legal and the FFRF has been put in its place. They cannot remove crosses from property that is not public
    Yes, it is legal, and it's great that the cross will continue to be displayed on (now) private property.

    But I don't see how this puts the FFRF "in it's place". As far as I can determine, the FFRF has never had a problem with religious displays on private property, only on public property. And transferring or selling public property to a private entity, whether it is the Heritage Foundation, or any other private group or individual is the perfect solution, and one which I am sure the FFRF is more than okay with. Their only concern are religious displays on public property, be they Christian crosses, or prayers and other religious displays in schools, etc.

    Anyway, this current solution would seem to save both sides the time, money and expertise required to deal with a lawsuit. So again, I don't see how this puts anyone, including the FFRF in their place.

    Sounds more like a win-win to me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldGaffer View Post
    Why do you want the government of all the people to endorse just the religion of part of the people?
    How is this government "endorsing" a religion?

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    Cat-tastic Babba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NiteGuy View Post
    Yes, it is legal, and it's great that the cross will continue to be displayed on (now) private property.

    But I don't see how this puts the FFRF "in it's place". As far as I can determine, the FFRF has never had a problem with religious displays on private property, only on public property. And transferring or selling public property to a private entity, whether it is the Heritage Foundation, or any other private group or individual is the perfect solution, and one which I am sure the FFRF is more than okay with. Their only concern are religious displays on public property, be they Christian crosses, or prayers and other religious displays in schools, etc.

    Anyway, this current solution would seem to save both sides the time, money and expertise required to deal with a lawsuit. So again, I don't see how this puts anyone, including the FFRF in their place.

    Sounds more like a win-win to me.
    Actually, FFRF wants the city to make it clear that the cross is on private property which the city has yet to do. People will be left with the impression that the city is endorsing Christianity.
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    Cat-tastic Babba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goofball View Post
    How is this government "endorsing" a religion?
    Because only one religion is represented by a government display. It gives the impression of the city government endorsing a religion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Babba View Post
    Because only one religion is represented by a government display. It gives the impression of the city government endorsing a religion.
    I thought they just made it private.

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    Council Member Djinn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aboutenough View Post
    ... This is the best remedy I have ever heard of to settle a case like this with the FFRF. They file a complaint of a cross being on public property, then transfer ownership to the Heritage Foundation so its no longer public property. Problem solved.
    I agree; and so does the FFRF.

    The FFRF is besides themselves, they starting to give orders that the property has to be sold at fair value. Why does the city have to take orders from the FFRF? The city doesn't, they are just trying to bully the city into thinking they will still get sued. Ignore them, all government entities should donate their property that has religious displays to the Heritage foundation, so the FFRF is powerless. This is a great idea.
    Why? Because it's the law. If the city sells land to a private individual below fair value, they have to explain why I (for example) can't get similar deals when the city is selling land for private use. Otherwise, it sounds like they're giving preferential treatment to a place of worship, and that's constitutionally prohibited.

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