The Lake Elsinore City Council approved the $50,000 memorial in spite of a warning from their attorney that the project might be unconstitutional.
“The city has clearly violated the First Amendment by unnecessarily choosing a divisively religious means of honor our veterans,” said William Burgess, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “In addition, the California constitution prohibits any governmental funding whatsoever for religious purposes, including religious monuments.”
The monument is slated to be erected in front of the city’s baseball stadium. It features the soldier kneeling before the graveside cross underneath an American flag and an eagle.
“Freedom is never free,” reads an inscription on the base of the monument. “Honoring our brave men and women who by their service give life to our most precious gift – freedom.”
The council also added a Star of David to the design – but Burgess said the monument still had to go.
“What it says to everyone who’s not part of that religious is, ‘you’re not welcome here,’” he told the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
The Pacific Justice Institute is representing the city in the lawsuit. Attorney Brad Dacus said it’s outrageous that atheists are attacking war veterans.
“The purpose of the memorial is for recognizing those who fought and died defending our freedoms,” he told Fox News. “It does not promote a particular religion and by no means can it be looked at as endorsing a religion.”
Dacus called the lawsuit a “desperate attempt to distort the Constitution” and remove Christianity from the public square.
“The end game of these atheist organizations is to sterilize religion from the public square – including religious symbols,” he said. “Just the usage of those symbols is enough to compel them to file a lawsuit.”