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Illinois atheists lose appeal to Supreme Court over state renovation of Christian cross

Illinois atheists lose appeal to Supreme Court over state renovation of Christian cross

Atheists in Buffalo Grove, Illinois have been fighting for two years over the state-sponsored renovation of an eleven story cross atop a mountain in the southern part of the state. Their final appeal was rejected by the court, ending a long and arduous fight.

The Supreme Court rejected the appeal without comment, meaning the $20,000 (US) grant given by the state for the renovation of the Bald Knob 'Cross of Peace' will stand.

The suit was initiated in August of 2010, with the argument that using state money to repair the cross is in violation of the First Amendment provision for the separation of church and state. The suit stated that the state was advancing Christianity.

The funds were appropriated from a $5,000,000 (US) allotment that was earmarked for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Robert Sherman, who filed the suit, stated,

"This action by the Supreme Court affirms that our nation's court system is a joke. [The Supreme Court's] refusal to take my case means that any legislative [body], whether it be Congress, a state legislature or a municipal board, can make blatantly unconstitutional grants to advance religion simply by naming an executive branch agency as a middleman in the transaction. What a joke! What a fraud against the taxpayers of this country."

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has yet to comment on the case, but the President of the organization that oversees the cross stated, D.W. Presley, said,

"In the grand scheme of things, while this is sensational news, this was just a small portion of what we've had going on in the last three years. The more important story is seeing the cross restored. [Sherman] used the legal process to the fullest extent, and there's nothing wrong with that. We're just glad it's over and behind us."

The cross can be seen atop Bald Knob Mountain, at an elevation of 1,025 feet.

About Al Stefanelli

Al is a retired author, writer and journalist. His books include "Free Thoughts - A Collection Of Essays By An American Atheist" and "A Voice Of Reason In An Unreasonable World - The Rise Of Atheism On Planet Earth." Al began writing in 1985, starting with the New York Times. In 1993 he joined a McClatchy newspaper, writing a weekly column for ten years. His writing continues to be widely distributed on the Internet and in print. He also produced and hosted a weekly syndicated radio broadcast from 1995 to 1998, and his work won a North Carolina Journalism award in 1998. Al is the former Georgia State Director for American Atheists, Inc., and served on the Board of Directors for "The Clergy Project." He is also a former Southern Baptist Pastor, having served two churches and as pulpit supply for three counties. Currently, he writes part time for The God Discussion, co-hosts the Internet radio programs, "The God Discussion Show" and "Reap Sow Radio." Al lives in the Atlanta suburb of Peachtree City, GA.
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