11/04/2011 01:53 pm ET | Updated Jan 04, 2012

Atheist Claims Bald Knob Cross Funding Unconstitutional, Judge Disagrees

CHICAGO (AP) – A 111-foot cross in southern Illinois is a religious symbol, but that doesn't mean the state legislature was wrong to fund part of it, a federal appeals court said.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the appeal of Rob Sherman Wednesday involving a $20,000 state grant used to refurbish the Bald Knob Cross for Peace in Alto Pass.

Sherman argues that using taxpayer money for the cross is unconstitutional.

But judges say they don't see clear evidence that the state tried to violate the Constitution's ban on the establishment of a state religion. Judge Richard Posner says courts "can't do everything."

They did not rule on the case Wednesday. A lower court had dismissed Sherman's lawsuit over the grant.