President Signs 2015 NDAA: Mt Soledad Addressed, No Religious Liberty Provisions
For the first time in several years, Congress passed and the President signed a National Defense Authorization Act with no sections directing the US military on issues of religious liberty. Over the prior few years, Congress has inserted legislation requiring protection of religious expression within the military, for example, which resulted in changes to DoDI 1300.17 and Air Force Instruction 1-1.
One thing the NDAA does include, however, is authorization to transfer the Mount Soledad Memorial Cross to a private organization:
the Secretary of Defense shall convey all right, title, and interest of the United States in and to the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial in San Diego, California, to the Mount Soledad Memorial Association, Inc.
The Mount Soledad cross has been a point of litigation for decades, and some have viewed this legislation as an “end run” around the courts in an attempt to preserve the cross and secure some kind of Christian supremacist victory.
Ironically, this isn’t the ending that even supporters of the cross want, if they have a larger perspective. A transfer of land might end this “battle,” but it does nothing for the larger question — or the status of any other US military memorial around the country or the world.
The better outcome, of course, would be for the government to recognize and affirm that the presence of a cross on public land does not constitute Congress making a law concerning an establishment of religion.
Problem solved, now and for the future.