Atheists Demand Removal of Cross from War Memorial. Again.

Update: Liberty Counsel has agreed to defend the town of Woonsocket for free.

The awkwardly named Freedom From Religion Foundation has apparently demanded that a war memorial in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, be removed because it has a cross on it.  The memorial

was erected nearly a century ago to honor the city’s war dead, including three brothers killed in World War I.

The town’s mayor had an interesting response to the call to tear down the 91-year old memorial:

Mayor Leo Fontaine told the Woonsocket Call he will not remove the cross “under any circumstances.”

However, the town is reportedly strapped for cash and may not be able to afford a legal defense.

Atheists and critics of various stripes — including Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and Jason Torpy — have called for the removal of crosses around the country.  These crosses are on lone mountains in the California desert, military bases, town squares, and Arlington National Cemetery.  Yes, atheist and former Army Captain Jason Torpy wants to yank a cross out of Arlington — something even the ACLU won’t touch.  Naturally, the presence of a cross establishes a religion and creates a state church, therefore it is unconstitutional.  Right.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

Somehow it seems a bit of a stretch to say that means tear down crosses in front of town fire departments.  The US Supreme Court has previously agreed, saying

The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm…The Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion’s role in society…

A Latin cross is not merely a reaffirmation of Christian beliefs. It is a symbol often used to honor and respect those whose heroic acts, noble contributions, and patient striving help secure an honored place in history for this Nation and its people…

That’s from Justice Anthony Kennedy, sometimes called the “swing” vote on the Court because of his position “between” the traditionally conservative and liberal “blocks.”


  • I hear so often about “freedom from religion”, what about freedom for religion. Where are God’s people when things like this happen? Though at one time there were 96% of Americans who called themselves Christians and still today there are estimated to be 75% saying the same, whenever someone stands against God, we, sit down. I want to say, God is Real, no matter what anyone says, I know My God is real. Okay, go ahead be unbelievers, that’s on you but I am a BELIEVER IN THE LORD GOD… job, no man, no threat, no word that goes against the Word of God means anything to me. I, too, am an American, I believe in God the Father, God The Son and God the Holy Spirit, you believe in what you want but don’t try to take away my right to Believe, I am not trying to take away your right not to believe. That is between you and whatever you want to believe in.

  • Found this website with a lot of information about the veterans monument in Rhode Island. There is an awesome video on the right hand side of the page that tells the story of the monumnet. Well worth the watch. I have donated to the towns defense fund and hope they stick with the fight.

  • Irrespective of one’s irrational take on having Christian crosses as sole religious military memorial representation, it is constritutional law that the government, inluding the armed forces may not advance, prefer or favor one religion over another or display religous signs or icons to that effect.

    We either obey the law or get it changed but when it is in force we must obey regardless of the depth of our belief. When one allows his religous belief to trump constitutional provision he has sullied the very concept of Democracy and would violate the memory of the millions who have perished to preserve and uphold that constitution.

    Were the shoe on the other foot and a Muslim majority allowed only star and crescent moon symbols on memorials to war dead, I can assure you that crazed Christians would have them bulldozed and set ablaze post haste.

  • @Richard
    We’ve talked about this at length. No part of the Constitution or US law says a memorial cannot have a cross on it. US law does prevent the government from discriminating against memorials on the basis of their religious content. Obey that law or get it changed.

    a Muslim majority allowed only star and crescent moon…

    False dichotomy, straw man, take your pick. No one is “allowing only” any kind of memorial. They just don’t want the government to tear down the ones that are standing.

  • @JD
    Wrong. A religious memorial erected to the exclusion of others in a general military populated venue is illegal. Period.

  • Wanna show us the law, Richard?

  • @Nate
    US Supreme Court Lemon Vs. Kurzman 1971.

    Government, including the armed forces and public education may not favor, recommend, elevate or proselytize one religion over another or religion over non-religion.

    The act of erecting an exclusive religious symbol to the exclusion of others in an area not designated as a worship site for that particular religion and in which the dead from all faiths are buried or memorialized violates constitutional provision. As much as you would wish it so the cross is not a religious symbol for all faiths and should not be used as one. In a venue wherein military personnel of all faiths are buried or memorialized a symbol for each of the faiths must be represented. Just as you are sensitive to the religious needs of living armed forces personnel, you must also be sensitive to those of the departed. I’m sure you are aware of some religious activitiy in which the records of dead military and others have been obtained and services to baptize them posthumously undertaken. This is wrong and unAmerican. We must have as much respect for the religious beliefs of the dead as we do those of the living.

  • @Richard
    So how do you explain Salazar v Buono (2010), which defended the presence of a public cross and in which Justice Kennedy said

    The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm.

    If Supreme Court rulings are “law” and “constitutional provision,” as you imply, it would seem your citation of Lemon has been superseded.

    But then, you know that, since we’ve already had this conversation here, and you’ve taken the time to read up on cases more current than something 40 years old, right?

  • Actually, no. I was not aware that Lemon was voided. I guess certain circumstances call for different rulings. I am still convinced that it is an act oif Christian Supremacy to have only a Christian Cross as a memorial to the dead of all faiths. That is how it is with spremacists be they racial or religious.

  • @Richard

    Richard :
    As much as you would wish it so the cross is not a religious symbol for all faiths and should not be used as one.

    I don’t recall wishing that.