A circuit court panel of three judges ruled on Wednesday that a 34-foot-tall Christian cross can remain in a public park in Pensacola, Florida, reversing an earlier decision that had ordered the cross to be removed.
The decision comes after the Supreme Court ruled on a similar situation in Maryland, holding that a cross on public land in that state could remain there without violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The high court ordered the Pensacola case to be vacated and remanded for further review.
The plaintiffs with atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation claimed that the presence of the cross indicated that "Christian citizens are insiders, and the rest of us are outsiders." The judges, meanwhile, noted in their decision that the plaintiffs had not proven any "discriminatory intent" or "deliberate disrespect" in the placement of the cross.