If you haven’t heard the news, last month the American Humanist Association successfully lobbied the city of Lake Elsinore to remove a large roadside cross that had acted as defacto memorial for over a year. The cross stood near the intersection of Lake Street Temescal Canyon Road.
The cross had been up since shortly after 19-year-old Anthony Devaney was tragically killed by a vehicle in May 2012 as he crossed Lake Street. The cross was removed on March 6.
The removal of the cross was prompted when the American Humanists Association (AMA) asked the city to take down the cross because it violated the separation of church and state.
According to Monica Miller, the attorney for the AMA, the cross was left up despite city ordinances against roadside displays. “None of those rules have been applied here so it’s basically selective enforcement of their sign law,” she said.
While the removal of a monument to the victim of a tragedy may seem callous, the simple fact is that the cross persisted despite ordinances that prohibited other similar roadside memorials for remaining up for over a year. This was a clear case of the city engaging in selective enforcement over religious symbol.
On March 22, Lake Elsinore installed a plaque in a local park to honor the memory of Anthony Devaney. This non-sectarian plaque does not privilege any one religion over another nor violate city ordinances. The IEAA applauds the city of Lake Elsinors decision to respect all members and beliefs of their community while memorializing this tragedy.