Riverside, California- A mother grieving the untimely loss of her 19 year old son, Anthony, in a car crash, came under pressure from an atheist group to remove a memorial cross from the scene of his fatal collision. Upon hearing of the cross, The American Humanist Association in Washington, D.C., pressured the grieving mother to remove the memorial, arguing it’s placement on city property violates the separation of church and state.
Friends and supporters gathered to accompany a visually emotional AnnMaire Devangey as she removed the five foot cross commemorating her son’s death from a small road in Lake Elsinore. Devaney was quoted as calling The American Humanist Association’s acts, “petty”, arguing, “it’s his personal preference that he was a Christian. What’s wrong with having a cross up?”
“They (the American Humanist Association) said they have to take that one down, but they didn’t say anything about putting another one up” said a Riverside resident Doug Johnson in solidarity with his grieving neighbor. Johnson, who traveled to the site accompanied by his daughter, brought six home made crosses to replace the one Devangey had to remove. Friends and family of Devangey were reported as bringing their own crosses to the site as well.
Both theists and atheists alike have taken to social media to protest the associations’ actions. “I’m an atheist. These atheists are f****** a*******” says Kevin Mitchell on one prominent atheist Facebook page. “As an atheist, I can still respect other’s beliefs” says another.
It was recently reported that the association reportedly just got a judge to agree to block the setting up of a monument featuring a solider kneeling before a cross-topped grave outside of Diamond Stadium in the same town.
Regardless of where you stand on the issue of separation of church and state, it is clear the actions taken by the Association are completely tasteless. Atheists, and atheist groups looking to further their cause and ideology should avoid wasting their time on such petty and vulgar things. Though a legitimate, constitutional case in the Association’s favor could be made, it boggles the mind why anyone would want to make it.
The mother did not place the cross to advance her religion, or to make a political statement. The cross was clearly not meant to convert passing drivers, only to honor the death of Devangey’s christian son.
This is not a debate about atheism or theism, church versus state. The argument for letting Devangey keep her son’s cross is a simple, human one. The Association should apologize to Devangey for the stress they have put her through, and refocus their efforts on something more egregious than a mother mourning her dead, teenage son.
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