Cross can stay public park pending Florida city’s appeal

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) — A federal judge has ordered that a cross that has stood in a Florida public park for nearly half a century can stay for now.

The Pensacola News Journal reports that U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson ruled last month that the 34-foot cross in Bayview Park violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution and must be removed by July 19. He suspended that order Monday after the city of Pensacola filed an appeal.

The American Humanist Association and the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit in 2016 on behalf of four Escambia County residents who said the cross violated the separation of church and state.

Court documents show a civic group built the current cross in 1969. An earlier cross had been at the location since 1941.