COOS BAY — A U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday morning could determine the fate of a controversial memorial cross in Coos Bay’s Mingus Park.
In the case of Greece, New York v. Galloway, et. al; the court ruled that Christian prayer at the beginning of public meetings did not violate the establishment clause of the Constitution.
The Coos Bay City Council had cited the then-pending case in delaying action regarding the Mingus Park Vietnam War Memorial Cross.
The cross has been the subject of controversy since early 2013, when the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent the city a letter demanding the removal of the cross.
The city also received a similar complaint from the American Civil Liberties Union.
The controversy worsened when improvised explosive devices were planted at the memorial and a public-access chapel downtown, sparking an FBI investigation.
The Supreme Court case did not directly address the question of physical monuments with religious symbolism, but it did reject the theory that legislative acts of prayer must be nonsectarian.
Whether the memorial would constitute “legislative prayer” would likely have to be decided by a higher court.
Following the legal complaints, the city retained the Texas-based Liberty Institute to conduct a legal assessment of the cross.
The results of the assessment were provided to the council in executive session in June 2013.
Coos Bay City Attorney Nathan McClintock responded to The World’s public records request for the results in writing, saying all except the institute’s initial email to the city was exempt from disclosure under attorney-client privilege.
Discussion of the memorial does not appear on current agendas for the city council meeting scheduled for May 6.
City Manager Roger Craddock did not return a call for comment Monday.