Federal Appeals Court Rules Pensacola Bayview Cross Can Remain

February 19, 2020

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the cross at Pensacola’s Bayview Park does not violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution and it can remain due to its historic status.

In Kondrat’yev v. City of Pensacola, a federal appeals court previously found that the cross must come down, with two of the three judges saying that the outcome was “wrong” but that their “hands were tied” because of the notorious Lemon test. The U.S. Supreme Court in June 2019 instructed the lower appeals court to reconsider its ruling in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision upholding another cross monument in Bladensburg, Maryland.

In the Pensacola case, the appeals court on Wednesday found “the cross does not offend the Constitution.”

“Pensacola is a historic city with a rich and diverse history. The Bayview Cross is an important part of that history as a symbol of our community’s coming together during a national crisis,” Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said. “Today the citizens of Pensacola will celebrate our long-awaited victory and the preservation of the Bayview Cross.”

The cross was in place, in one form or another, for 75 years without incident before the suit to have it removed was filed. The court found that there is no evidence the City of Pensacola has ever made the space around the cross available to the public on anything other than a neutral basis.

“The surest proof of that fact: Just two months before the filing of this lawsuit, the City granted plaintiff David Suhor’s request to reserve the cross for his own ’satanic purposes,’ which required a church that had already reserved it to move to another area of the park,” the ruling states.

The plaintiffs, four individuals represented by American Humanist Association, can still appeal the decision.

History of the Bayview Cross

In 1941, the National youth Administration erected a wooden cross in in the eastern corner of the park for an annual Easter sunrise program organize by the Pensacola Jaycees. It became a tradition, with people gathering for Easter services during World War II to pray, among other things, for “the divine guidance of our leaders” and for faith to “see through the . . . dark days of war”, according to court documents.

The services continued following the war, and in 1949 the Jaycees built a small stage—or “bandstand”—immediately in front of the cross to serve as a “permanent home” for the annual program In 1969, the Jaycees replaced the original wooden cross with the 34-foot concrete version at issue in this case. The new cross was dedicated at the 29th annual Easter sunrise service. The Jaycees later donated the cross to the city, which continues to light and maintain it at a current cost of around $233 per year.

Although the cross is only one of more than 170 monuments scattered throughout Pensacola’s parks, it is one of only two—and the only religious display—located in Bayview Park. Over the years, the cross has continued to serve as the location for an annual Easter program, but it has also been used for other purposes, including as a site for remembrance services on Veterans and Memorial Days, at which attendees place flowers near it in honor of loved ones overseas and in memory of those who have died fighting in service of the country.

Comments

24 Responses to “Federal Appeals Court Rules Pensacola Bayview Cross Can Remain”

  1. John Reading on February 24th, 2020 12:41 pm

    America is a Christi an country, and I am proud to live in the Bible belt, where Christians proudly help everybody they can.

  2. john on February 24th, 2020 7:45 am

    This country was founded on people fleeing religious tyranny, anointed by God, and at that time they not knowing God had a purpose for their lives, would give them the mightiest nation to have ever existed. If we don’t repent God will raise up a new nation to take our place.

  3. patti on February 20th, 2020 9:22 pm

    I’m so proud that the cross gets to stay. Our country was founded on Christian beliefs. It’s a shame that people are always trying to change things to suit their-self. I believe in Jesus Christ-God all Mighty, and if those out there don’t, that will be their problem, just please don’t do away with things that are hundred of years old just because you don’t believe.

  4. Master Mechanic on February 20th, 2020 8:02 pm

    John Doe

    Free Country.……..For those of us that fought for it Freedom has a flavor the protected will never know

  5. John Doe on February 20th, 2020 3:58 pm

    the church of satan was founded by atheists who are just having a bit of fun at the rest of the world’s expense. good on em.

  6. Atom on February 20th, 2020 2:40 pm

    @Stumpknocker

    The Constitution of the United States of America has NO mention of a god or any gods, and certainly doesn’t say that this country was founded on the beliefs of Christianity. And I don’t care what the personal religious beliefs were of any Founding Father, it is not mentioned in the Constitution, which is the document our American lives revolve around every day.

  7. Bill M on February 20th, 2020 2:16 pm

    i remember reading that the guy who represented the Satanic Church said he doesn’t believe in Satan. Well isn’t that special ; )
    He certainly acts like the Satan, since he’s lying and the Nachash is the great deceiver.

  8. Stumpknocker on February 20th, 2020 1:46 pm

    @Jerry you are absolutely correct, problem is none of what you mentioned founded this country we live in, so why would you put something else up that belongs to another country. The people of that country would probably be most offended by the way their religion or God was disrespected even by accident. See the difference they actually respect their religion of their country. If you don’t like it , find one or not and find some peace to live by.

  9. Stumpknocker on February 20th, 2020 1:40 pm

    I see some folks are not for the cross or anything to do with it, and I respect their views. However this country was founded on Christian believes, if not our for fathers would have never referred to god at all, so yes it’s part of our country and should not be removed or tampered with.It would be like an American moving to Japan and complaining about Budu and how offended they were. So if it sickens you or maybe makes you feel like needing a safe space, I suggest go find a doctor or a closet. Separation of church and state means no one has the right to force anyone into a religion and you have the freedom to practice what you will in peace and that right will be protected, so stop trying to change the religion of the land.

  10. Atom on February 20th, 2020 1:01 pm

    As a Southerner and an atheist, I agree with the court that it should not be removed. It is simply a religious symbol with historical value. I’ve seen it many times and it is what it is. I would assume that the majority of professing Christians deep down inside are completely indifferent to it as well. In addition, if another religious symbol would have been installed originally, I would have the same conclusion as with the Christian symbol. Be as it may, I would hope that god (if there is one) would have bigger fish to fry than a cross in Pensacola…such as healing children with brain cancer or ending world hunger to name a few. But, be happy and walk proud Christians, it’s not going anywhere.

  11. Resident on February 20th, 2020 12:18 pm

    “”"”Satan doesn’t get to raise up and have a party at the park.”"”"”

    Well actually he did. The atheist guy held a satanic party at the cross.

  12. @Charlotte Bates on February 20th, 2020 11:37 am

    But also – If you DO believe in God, that’s your decision. DON’T push your beliefs on the ones that DON’T believe in God.

    I’m ambivalent to the cross. Lived here a lot of years and never once did I pay attention to that cross until these lawsuits were started. Whether the cross is there or not isn’t important and it’s not going to hurt YOU.
    It’s just a SYMBOL of one religion.
    If that cross is removed, Jesus doesn’t die again with it.
    Satan doesn’t get to raise up and have a party at the park.

  13. John Doe on February 20th, 2020 10:45 am

    Master Mechanic, I can still not like it without leaving. Free country and all.

  14. @ Jerry on February 20th, 2020 9:16 am

    What you evidently dont want to understand is you cant even begin to understand what you had already decided to to comprehend in the article .
    No one asked you to agree or disagree..
    I am going to copy and paste the decision based on law for you..I will space the words so you will not get confused more than you are now..Watch and read now Jerry…slowly now..
    In -the -Pensacola- case, -the -appeals -court- on -Wednesday- found -“the -cross -does- not -offend- the- Constitution.”
    You dont even have to go there being the laws of this land and the constitution is meaningless to you
    80 years ago when the original was planted there ..when you were not even born…it was not an issue…only later when people like you were born it became an issue….thank God you were born RIGHT!!!!! Do you want to profess ill toward that
    Get back on the couch and watch Scooby Doo..right along with the childish mentality not offending anything.

  15. mq on February 20th, 2020 8:46 am

    Praise the Lord. That was great news to wske up to.

  16. Lou on February 20th, 2020 8:07 am

    Great News! Finally, the common people have a victory. I’m sure the four that filed the lawsuit don’t regularly visit Bayview anyway, just an attempt to get attention. Restores my faith in common sense and our justice system.

  17. Willene Bryan on February 20th, 2020 7:39 am

    Wonderful that it gets to stay.

  18. No1uknow on February 20th, 2020 7:23 am

    So glad to hear that it stays..as it should !!

  19. T Allen on February 20th, 2020 5:05 am

    It doesnt make good common sense to go through such extreme measures just to get a cross removed that has been there practically forever. Its just plain nonsense. It deserve no tolerance to begin with. If that doesnt do the trick for them then the court shouldnt allow them to be within so many miles of this area.If they do not comply, if they are caught then fine them over and over again until they get the point to stop wasting valuable time and money with ignorant request. Its not practical and It doesnt say much about our judicial system when it allows people to bring such pettiness into our courts. The cost of this alone should be of concern. I mean, over rule this petty junk in the first place never allowing it to get off the ground. Such as this makes our judicial system seem like it has no boundary for ignorance. “Nip it in the bud” That way it gets thrown out before it ever gets started. To give ignorant people this kind of attention is absurd. There is no telling what will offend them next. Then here we go again.

  20. Jerry on February 20th, 2020 4:56 am

    Public parks paid by tax dollars should not host religious symbols. I bet the public would have a huge outcry if it were a Buddhist statue, Islamic, Scientology or other religion placing things there.

  21. Justbecause on February 19th, 2020 10:43 pm

    Why society needs to interfere with everything is becoming so ridiculous that all issues need to go to court is a burden on the system over nonsense.
    If someone doesn’t like it move on with life and get over it.
    Not a fan of satanic religion, but not my problem and I just move on and go about my own business.
    I’m in agreement with Charlotte, ranch and master mechanic.

  22. Master Mechanic on February 19th, 2020 9:04 pm

    Glad it stays..……..don’t like it ………Leave

  23. rance on February 19th, 2020 7:32 pm

    Strike one up for common decency, moral values, and what’s right – as far as the atheists of this world…well everyone knows where you all are headed. Enjoy the heat.

  24. Charlotte R Bates on February 19th, 2020 6:33 pm

    should have never been in the courts to begin with. If you don’t believe in God, that’s your decision. DON’T push your beliefs on the ones that believe in God.





Have a comment on this story?

We welcome your comments on this story, but there are some rules to follow::

(1) Be Nice. No comments that slander another, no racism, no sexism, no personal attacks.

(2) No Harrassing Comments. If someone says something bad about you, don't respond. That's childish.

(3) No Libel. That's saying something is not true about someone. Don't do it.

(4) Keep it clean. Nothing vulgar, obscene or sexually related. No profanity or obvious substitutions. Period.

(5) NorthEscambia.com reserves the right to remove any comments that violate our rules or we think to be inappropriate. We are not responsible for what is posted. Comments may not appear right away until they are approved by a moderator.

(6) Limit your comments to the subject in this story only, and limit comments to 300 words or less. Do not post copyrighted material. Comments will not be added to stories that are over 30 days old.

(7) No posts may advertise a commercial business or political group, or link to another commercial web site or political site of any kind.