- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2016

After Texas public officials attended a groundbreaking ceremony for a 230-foot tall cross being erected on church property, lifelong atheist Patrick Greene is suing them — and the pastor who invited them.

“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,” Mr. Greene, 37, told Fox News, citing a Texas law that prohibits government officials from preferring any one religion.

Mr. Greene also said the cross, which sits along Interstate 37 in Corpus Christi (translation: “Body of Christ”), is a public safety hazard and “tacky as hell.”

“I don’t think it should be within eyesight because it jeopardizes people’s safety on the road,” he said.

The Abundant Life Fellowship owns the property and is paying for the cross with donations. Pastor Rick Milby said he has a right to build the cross, and the mayor had a right to attend the groundbreaking.

“It’s ridiculous,” Mr. Milby told Fox News. “He’s attacking my rights and the rights of the mayor. The groundbreaking was on a Sunday, and these are Christians, and they have a right to their faith.”

Corpus Christi Mayor Nelda Martinez attended the ceremony, where she spoke about her father’s dream of erecting a cross at the helm of the gulf city’s bay.

“The name of our city is Body of Christ, and I will tell you I will never forget that conversation I had with my father about his dream and his hope,” Ms. Martinez said at the ceremony, the Corpus Christi Caller Times reported.

Mr. Milby was later dropped from the lawsuit, but Mr. Greene said the pastor nonetheless showed poor judgment erecting the cross “where everybody can see it — just because he wants to proselytize his faith and get converts.”

The mayor and city council members are still facing the lawsuit.

Mr. Greene previously sued the city of Ontario, California, over Nativity scenes being erected by public servants at Christmas time. He later dropped the suit after the city agreed to divest public resources from the process.

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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