- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 24, 2016

An atheist activist on Tuesday reached a court-approved settlement to drop a lawsuit against a Corpus Christi, Texas, church planning to erect a 230-foot-tall cross.

Patrick Greene said in the settlement his legal complaint against Pastor Rick Milby of Abundant Life Fellowship Church was “baseless,” “vexatious” and “without merit.”

“We are grateful that Mr. Greene has admitted that his lawsuit — filed against a pastor for building a cross on church property — is baseless and without merit,” ​said Jeremy Dys, senior counsel for First Liberty Institute, which represented the church. “Today’s outcome should send a clear message to anti-religious freedom activists everywhere: If you abuse the legal system by suing people simply because you don’t like how they exercise their religion, there will be legal consequences.”

Mr. Milby said, “We are overjoyed that we were able to reach a favorable settlement so we can get back to building the cross and pointing people to Jesus.”

Mr. Greene also entered into a “covenant not to sue” over meritless claims regarding the free exercise of religion.

Abundant Life Fellowship Church is planning to build the “tallest cross in America,” standing 230 feet tall along Interstate 37 and on church property.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the cross in January was attended by state officials, including Corpus Christi Mayor Nelda Martinez. Gov. Greg Abbott sent a commendation to the church on the occasion.

Mr. Greene shortly thereafter filed a lawsuit against the pastor, saying he violated state law by inviting city officials to the groundbreaking ceremony, which he said was tantamount to state endorsement of religion. He also said the cross was a public safety hazard and “tacky as hell.”

The San Antonio atheist later sent profanity-laced emails to staff members at the First Liberty Institute denouncing their legal response to his claim.

Mr. Greene has a history of filing lawsuits aimed at suppressing religious expression, including against nativity scenes erected on public property and public prayers.

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

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