Bald Knob Cross

*An atheist activist in Illinois has filed a federal lawsuit to force a non-profit group into surrendering the $20,000 state grant it received to repair and restore a giant 111-foot cross.

The Bald Knob Cross in Alto Pass, Ill., as it stood in January 2009.

The lawsuit, filed by 57-year-old Rob Sherman in the Federal District Court for the Central District of Illinois in Springfield, lists as the defendants the 501(c)(3) Friends of the Cross, the State of Illinois, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), Gov. Pat Quinn and DCEO Director Warren Ribley.

Sherman, who runs a social advocacy organization called Rob Sherman Advocacy, says Quinn and Ribley had nothing to do with the 2008 contract between Friends of the Cross and DCEO, but were named as defendants because they were asked this year to rescind the grant but declined to do so.

“There has never been any question, outside of southern Illinois, that this State Grant is blatantly unconstitutional,” stated Sherman in his announcement of the lawsuit Thursday.

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