Atheist’s Lawsuit Against ‘Tallest Cross in America’ Heads to Texas Court

Sagemont Church Cross
Photo: Sagemont Church

The planned religious monument dubbed the “Tallest Cross in America” is heading to a Corpus Christi, Texas, court on Tuesday. San Antonio atheist Patrick Greene filed a lawsuit against the Abundant Life Fellowship to stop its planned construction of a 230-foot cross.

First Liberty Institute filed a motion to dismiss Greene’s lawsuit. Judge David Stith of the 319th District Court will hear arguments, according to information obtained from First Liberty Institute by Breitbart Texas.

“Mr. Greene has a track record of using baseless lawsuits to harass people over any expression of faith he doesn’t like,” First Liberty Institute’s Senior Counsel Jeremy Dys said in a written statement.” Since Mr. Greene is using the legal system to attack people of faith, we feel the appropriate response is to ask the Court to use the law to stop him.”

Pastor Rick Milby of the Abundant Life Fellowship had a dream to build the “Tallest Cross in America.” He got the idea after seeing the stunning 170-foot white cross on the campus of Sagemont Church located in southeast Houston. Construction of Sagemont’s cross was completed in February 2009 according to the church’s website.

When Milby became a Christian, and again in 2013, he saw the cross Sagemont Church constructed. He met with leaders from Sagemont Church because he wanted to learn how and why they built it, the First Liberty Institute website states. The leaders at Sagemont told Milby about the lives that had been changed, suicides that were avoided, and relationships that were restored after people saw the cross.

Milby became determined to build an even taller cross on church property along Interstate 37 near Corpus Christi. The location is across the freeway from a veteran’s cemetery. His dreams became reality and on January 31, 2016, the Abundant Life Fellowship broke ground on the 230-ft. cross.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott participated in the historic groundbreaking and said, “Throughout our great state, communities of faith work every day to share God’s message of love and put it into action. This 230-foot cross will do just that on a truly grand scale.”

Greene filed his lawsuit shortly after the groundbreaking. Greene complained that the mayor and city councilwomen violated the Constitution by attending the ceremony.

In December 2013, Breitbart News reported on a lawsuit filed by Greene involving a nativity scene placed in front of the Henderson County Courthouse. He has also sued a Lubbock, Texas, museum that killed and stuffed two mules for display. Even Democrat San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro has not been exempt from Greene’s legal attacks. He sued the then-mayor over his participation in the National Day of Prayer.

Greene apparently objects to the giant cross because he believes it will be a traffic hazard, Fox News reported in March. “I don’t think it should be within eyesight because it jeopardizes people’s safety on the road,” he said.

He has filed the lawsuit because the mayor and city council members attended the groundbreaking ceremony. “When I saw the mayor in her official position and the council in their official positions were attending a groundbreaking ceremony for a Christian symbol – that smacked right in the face of the Constitution of the state of Texas,” he told Fox News.

He stated that Pastor Milby “violated the law” when he invited the mayor and council members.

Greene has followed up his lawsuit with profanity-laced emails addressed to the staff at First Liberty Institute. He apparently objects to the organization’s stepping-in to help the Abundant Life Fellowship.

The motion for dismissal filed by First Liberty Institute on behalf of its client, Abundant Life Fellowship, is based on the Texas Citizens Participation Act. Texas law requires a hearing on the motion within 90 days, the organization stated.

Dys said they have been getting calls from people of faith who are “terrified they will be targeted next, simply because they practice their faith in public.”

The hearing on the motion is scheduled for Tuesday at 9 a.m. in Corpus Christi.

Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2


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