Pancho Murrietta, who spent time in the Pima County Jail for a crime he did not commit, put a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe in a natural grotto on the side of the mountain on South Mission Road in 1993. The original is gone but the site has been added to over the years by many visitors. It, along with another shrine about 100 yards away, sit in the mountainside, north of the West Starr Pass Boulevard overpass. Photo by Alex Dalenberg/Arizona Daily Star.

Alex Dalenberg/Arizona Daily Sta

The group demanding the city remove a religious shrine from “A” Mountain said they aren’t backing down just because the city blew them off.

Last week, city attorney Mike Rankin sent a two-sentence response to the Freedom From Religion Foundation informing them the city has no plans to take down the Lady of Guadalupe shrine which has sat atop the mountain for twenty years.

That news irked the folks at the Madison, WI-based FFRF.

Patrick Elliott, an FFRF attorney, said he was troubled by the city’s dismissive approach to a serious constitutional breach.

“We maintain that the City's allowance of permanent Catholic shrines on public property confers government endorsement of religion,” Elliott said in an email. “We hope that City officials take their constitutional obligations seriously and take action to have them removed."

Elliott added you don’t have to look far to see the city is on the wrong side of the law in this instance.

“A brief review of court precedent from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals demonstrates the unconstitutional nature of the shrines,” he wrote.

The FFRF is no stranger to legal action. The group has filed or been a part of dozens of lawsuits over the years.

As a far as suing the city goes, Elliott said his group is still weighing its options.

One city councilman thinks the group is wasting its time hounding the city over a few candles and pictures set-up by private citizens.

“I fail to see any connection between leaving a shrine up on 'A' mountain and the (first amendment),”Councilman Steve Kozachik said. “Leaving the shrine up on Sentinel Peak does not constitute our establishing the Church of Tucson and forcing people to worship at it.”