Patrick Greene, a Texas atheist known for filing lawsuits against public religious displays, is threatening to sue Corpus Christi city officials for their support of a giant cross planned on the property of a local church.
Greene says the mayor and some members of the city council violated their oaths of office by attending a groundbreaking ceremony for the cross, which is planned at Abundant Life Fellowship, TV station KRIS reports
. He said he is considering suing the church as well.
Greene pointed to the Texas Constitution's Bill of Rights, which reads, "No human authority ought, in any case whatever, to control or interfere with the rights of conscience in matters of religion, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious society or mode of worship."
The attendance by local and state officials at the groundbreaking was a violation of the state constitution, Greene said, and called on the officials to apologize.
"They have to remain neutral and they cannot show preference of one religion over another," Greene said, "because it gives the public the idea that the government, which has to remain neutral in every level of the United States, it takes away the neutrality."
City attorney Miles Risley told KRIS he doesn't believe the officials did anything outside the law, and that the cross, which would be 210-feet-tall and 95-feet-wide would be a tourist attraction that would benefit the city.
It would be the second-largest cross in the world and the largest in the Western Hemisphere.
Pastor Rick Milby declined to comment directly on the lawsuit threat, saying he didn't want to give Greene added publicity, but told KRIS the lawsuit won't succeed and invited Greene to go ahead and try.
Milby is trying to raise $1 million to support the effort through a website, The Corpus Christi Cross Project
, notes the Christian Post
Milby said he was inspired to pursue the project after seeing a large cross at a church in Houston.
"For the next several months God began speaking to my heart about erecting a mega cross in Corpus Christi, Texas, a city named after His church, 'The Body of Christ,'" Milby said.
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