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A concrete cross commemorating servicemen killed in World War One, that is the subject of a religious rights case now before the U.S. Supreme Court, is seen in Bladensburg, Maryland, U.S., February 11, 2019. Picture taken on February 11, 2019. REUTERS/Lawrence Hurley

Supreme Court says cross-shaped memorial can stay on public land in Maryland

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says a World War I memorial in the shape of a 40-foot-tall cross can continue to stand on public land in Maryland.

The court has rejected a challenge to the nearly 100-year-old memorial. The justices have ruled that its presence on public land doesn’t violate the First Amendment’s establishment clause. That clause prohibits the government from favoring one religion over others.

The cross’ challengers included the District of Columbia-based American Humanist Association, a group that includes atheists and agnostics. They argued that the cross should be moved to private property or modified into a nonreligious monument such as a slab or obelisk.

Maryland officials who took over maintenance of the cross decades ago argued that the cross has a secular purpose and meaning.

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