Religious Freedom Group Offers to Defend Camp Pendleton Cross
The Alliance Defense Fund [is] offering our services free of charge to the Camp to defend the rights of its Marines to prepare themselves mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, as they prepare themselves to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Legal counsel Joel Oster notes the ‘clause of unlimited liability’ nature of military service encourages troops to “come to grips with their emotional and spiritual [selves].”
That is why militaries have chaplains. It is simply a requirement of military readiness that Marines and other soldiers be able to deal with the heavy toll that comes with sacrificial employment.
Facing those issues of mortality is what led to the Camp Pendleton crosses, raised on a hill overlooking Camp Horno, in the first place [emphasis added]:
Seven Marines went up that hill to erect the crosses to help them deal with the fact that others had given their lives before them… [Four of those 7 were killed in combat.]
These crosses were not erected by the military, they were erected by individual Marines. The government does not maintain these crosses. Individuals who are ready to die for others are maintaining these crosses.
This is not about the government establishing religion. This is about Marines personally coming to grips with a job that requires the ultimate sacrifice.
Jason Torpy, the primary critic of the crosses, became vicariously offended when he saw a positive story in the LA Times on the nearly decade old memorial site. Oster says
Some people know no shame. The [MAAF] want[s] the crosses moved and have threatened to sue the Camp if they do not get their way. According to…Jason Torpy, “These Marines were abusing their access to the installation when they went on to it and start[ed] building things.”
Did the group of Marines erect the crosses without a permit? Maybe, though there is disagreement even on that part. Did they “abuse their access?” Joel Oster is right. That’s a farcical — and shameful — characterization of their conduct.