The Wisconsin group challenging the constitutionality of a cross on a war memorial in Rhode Island says it expects to prevail without the type of long legal battle that unfolded over a prayer banner ordered removed this year from a public high school.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote to Woonsocket Mayor Leo Fontaine this month saying the Christian cross on a 1921 monument on city property is unlawful because it violates the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.

Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said the group expects the cross will be removed without legal action.

“We expect to prevail without going to court,” she said Wednesday. “Our assumption is that the city does not realize the law.”

Council President John Ward told The Woonsocket Call this week that he agrees with those who say the cross is more of a historical symbol — like the grave markers at Normandy, France — but he said the financially struggling city can’t afford to get dragged into a legal battle.

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