Rhode Island atheist group, wants Woonsocket memorial to stay

The debate over a veterans memorial with a cross on it, that's been in front of a fire station  in Woonsocket since 1921, took an unexpected turn Thursday.

That's because the Ocean State Atheists are now coming out in support of those looking to keep the cross, right where it is.

Jason LaRose is the co-founder of the group and an atheist, he believes that the Woonsocket veterans memorial topped with a cross, is not an endorsement by the state of one religion over another, and considers it a monument to soldiers, who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“It only represents the soldiers, it only represents the memory of that service.” said LaRose.

LaRose's opinion puts him on the other side of the argument, from the Wisconsin based atheist group, that lodged the initial complaint with the city of Woonsocket.

And on the same side as a group led by former Rhode Island Guard General Reginald Centracchio.

A group that's looking to rally next Wednesday to ensure the monument stays put.

“This has nothing to do with state and church. It has everything to do with ensuring that we maintain the respect and remembrance of our veterans. It's their choice as to whether a cross or a Star of David or some other religious symbol will be placed on that monument.” said Centracchio.

LaRose believes that this latest complaint comes from someone who didn't do their homework about the memorial and what it represents, and he fears that the motive behind speaking out, has more to do with what happened with the Cranston Prayer Banner, than it does with being offended by a cross being on public property.

“You see all the attention that Jessica Ahlquist got I mean she's got an education because of standing up for what she believed in. And I think somebody saw that and said, 'Wow. What's something that I can complain about?'” said LaRose.