Camp Pendleton Cross Decision Expected, Atheists Threaten Suit

FoxNews recently updated the Camp Pendleton cross controversy with an interview of one of the widows whose husband helped raise the original cross.

“It’s not a religious spot at all, it’s a place for the Marines to grieve and to grow to let go of their burdens of what they had in their soul, so they can go back down that hill and back into battle and put their own lives on the line,” says Marine widow Karen Mendoza.

It also quotes Col Nicholas Marano, the Camp Pendleton commander who retired at the beginning of the month:

Retired Marine Colonel Nick Marano tells us, “This wasn’t intended to be a religious memorial, it was just intended to be able to provide a fitting and a dignified memorial to their fallen comrades and frankly controversy was the very last thing on their minds.”

Jason Torpy has decried the memorial, which is located on the internally named Camp Horno portion of Camp Pendleton, as an example of “Christian privilege.” Apparently, the mere existence of something resembling Christianity is proof Christianity is given an official advantage in the United States.  Col Marano begged to differ:

Marano tells me no one would complain if, for example, someone decided to put up a Buddhist shrine, “No one would complain at all, and I bet if we poked around, we’d probably find something like that here…I mean you can see a very side variety of items have been used, everything from a bottle of Jack Daniels to a Purple Heart and everything in between. I think most Americans are very fair-minded and see this memorial, frankly, for what it is,” says the Colonel as he overlooks the site.

The US House of Representatives recently passed a bill explicitly acknowledging the appropriateness of religious references in military memorials, though, as an unofficial monument the Camp Pendleton cross would not likely be covered.

This isn’t the first time Torpy has cried over references to Christianity expressed by members of the military (he even said military members caught “Tebowing” should be punished) — and it won’t be the last.  He fails to acknowledge that military members are not restricted from expressing their faith — or simply choosing to honor their fellow Marines, as at Pendleton.  Crosses have been raised as memorials for the fallen for centuries in the United States (some of which, unlike the cross at Camp Horno, were erected with government money); there is no proof they have been an attempt by the government to promote Christianity or enforce a religious view. 

In fact, if the crosses were an attempt to protect Christian privilege or establish or favor Christianity, atheists should instead be laughing at them as colossal failures.  Despite how long some have stood, there is no evidence a war memorial cross has resulted in the conversion of a single person; some atheists even claim atheism — not Christianity — is the fastest growing “religion,” despite the presence of crosses on government land.  It seems Torpy has little to worry about.

The crosses at Camp Horno were not erected by the US Marines, nor are they official.  Their presence does not privilege Christianity, nor does it establish Christianity as a state religion.  The Constitutionally required position of the US government with respect to religion does not mandate that all hints of religious faith be scrubbed from the public landscape.

That Torpy, as an atheist, is offended by what the cross may represent is irrelevant.  Contrary to his insinuation, it is not the role of the US government to protect his sensitive feelings — though that doesn’t mean he won’t try:

the MAAF says if they don’t come down soon, it will file a lawsuit and possibly hold protests outside the Marine base gates.

Jason Torpy seems awfully wound up about something he claims he doesn’t believe in.