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Ohio town removes religious symbols after lawsuit threat from Atheist group

STRATTON, Ohio (WKRC/WTOV) -- The Freedom from Religion Foundation, the same group that attacked the city of Steubenville for having a cross in its city logo is turning its attention to another local town along the Ohio River Valley.

The group's new target is the village of Stratton and a local village building bearing a cross.

The foundation sent a series of letters to Mayor John Abdalla requesting that the crosses be removed. After conferring with the village solicitor, city officials have decided to take them down.

But the crosses won't go unseen. The city's solution will make them more visible than ever.

"Last night at the regular council meeting at the council of the village of Stratton, council unanimously resolved to give the crosses that were taken off the building [sic]," Stratton Village Solicitor Frank Bruzzese said.

But the city's solution is awarding the crosses to private landowners in the village, who will display them. "That result will be that [the crosses] will be on display... Actually more visible to the public than they used to be," Bruzzese said.

Abdalla says that he was originally made aware of the situation months ago, but that letters from the group kept coming in threatening a lawsuit.

"You know what it is? They're hiding," Abdalla said. "They don't have the guts to come up and say it's me that's saying this. Everything is anonymous."

But city officials say for an actual lawsuit to be filed, someone in standing, or actually offended by the display, would need to be provided. "As of this date, they've never produced anyone that's actually offended," Bruzzese said.

There is still one more cross that remains on public property, one that sits atop Stratton Hills Park. Abdalla says that cross will be removed once the weather turns warmer.

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