Cross along Maryland highway violates Constitution, court says

The Bladensburg "peace cross" in Maryland.


RICHMOND, Va. -- A federal appeals court has found that a towering cross on a Maryland state highway median just outside Washington, D.C., violates the U.S. Constitution. 

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Richmond ruled Wednesday that the 92-year-old monument known as the Bladensburg cross amounts to government sponsorship of a particular religion. The court overturned a 2016 ruling that said it was meant mostly as a secular commemoration of World War I. 

The marble-and-cement cross was built in 1925 to honor 49 men from Prince George's County who died in World War I.  

The American Humanist Association said the 40-foot tall cross endorses Christianity while ignoring non-Christian veterans. 

The 4th Circuit said it "excessively entangles the government in religion" because the cross is the "core symbol of Christianity" and "breaches" the wall separating church and state.