Some in American society today seem to think resurgent zealots are trying to push Christianity on society through their use of crosses, even within the US military.
Facts, however, show the long tradition of use of crosses as military memorials.
THIS SIMPLE CROSS WAS ERECTED at the western tip of Betio as a monument in memory of the 2nd Division Marines who were killed in the battle for Tarawa.
Crosses have been raised on Read more
Update: FoxNews reports on the “investigation” of the cross. The ACLJ has written a letter to Camp Pendleton explaining the appropriateness — and Constitutionality — of allowing the cross to remain. They, too, highlight the Argonne cross in Arlington mentioned below. In reference to the Utah trooper crosses mentioned below, the Highway Patrol logo has been stripped from the crosses and a disclaimer has been added in a bid to avoid their court-ordered removal.
It didn’t take long: When Jason Torpy of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers saw the LA Times report on the Camp Pendleton cross, he was quick to call it
a “wonderful gesture” in remembrance of the fallen Marines, but said its location on public land “makes us feel like the federal government privileges Christianity over non-Christians like us, makes us feel like second-class citizens…”
[T]heir desire to erect a large cross to honor their memory is perfectly acceptable, so long as it is on church land or their own property, not on federal land.
Further, Torpy claims the Marines’ cross is an intentional effort to by the government to afford preference to Christianity:
Military service is being exploited Read more
In an interesting twist to a long-running legal case, the VFW has sued the Executive Branch of the US government for failing to comply with an act of Congress supported by the Supreme Court.
The Mojave Cross has been in dispute for some years. The privately-erected cross on government land was the subject of a lawsuit, Buono v Salazar. In 2003 the US Congress transferred the land surrounding the Mojave Cross to the VFW in an attempt to eliminate the issues in conflict. The 9th Circuit court of appeals said the Mojave Cross was unConstitutional and the land transfer was an invalid attempt to circumvent their ruling.
In April of last year, the US Supreme Court overturned that decision, saying the appeals court “erred.” SCOTUS remanded the case to the 9th Circuit.
The cross was torn down by vandals shortly after the ruling, and the site remains empty because Read more
Update: The recently erected cross at the Mojave site has been removed, according to local sites.
Just a week after it was stolen, and a few days after a huge reward was offered, the World War I memorial in the Mojave National Preserve in southern California may have been returned…maybe.
The caretakers for the site had already built a replacement, but had said they wouldn’t erect it without permission from the government, because to do so would have made them as bad as those who stole it: Read more
Thanks to an anonymous donor, the reward leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for stealing the World War I memorial in the Mojave desert is now $125,000. The cross memorial was cut from its foundation, and an unverified letter provided to a local paper claimed responsibility.
Thus far, the thief has found no quarter even among those who agree with his perspective, if not his actions. It will be interesting to see if the person who claims to act with honorable intent continues to do so.
In an interesting (if unverifiable) development in the drama of the WWI memorial in Mojave, an anonymous letter was given to a local paper claiming responsibility and containing a numbered list of justifications for the theft. The author says
If an appropriate and permanent non-sectarian memorial is placed at the site the cross will be immediately returned…Alternatively, if a place can be found that memorializes the Christian Veterans of WWI that is not on public land the Cross will promptly be forwarded with care and reverence for installation at the private site.
Interestingly, a wide variety of groups have disavowed the theft, including the Read more
The VFW cross that has stood in the Mojave desert for decades — and survived a lawsuit all the way to the Supreme Court — has reportedly been ripped from its foundations and stolen. This was apparently no small feat, as it is located in a remote part of the desert, was fastened firmly to the ground, and made of 6-8 feet (depending on who’s measuring) of concrete-filled pipe.
A reward has been offered for information leading to the conviction of those responsible. While the ACLU and others have disavowed criminal activity, some have said this was the result they sought, even if not the means.
The caretakers for the cross have already begun the process to replace it, intending to put up one identical to the one erected in 1934. The Alliance Defense Fund issued a release condemning the vandalism, and included pictures of the cut bolts where the cross stood.
The decision in Salazar v Buono directly relates to faith in the military profession, as its very basic premise has far reaching implications:
Is a cross on government land an unConstitutional endorsement of the Christian faith?
A variety of organizations reported on the Supreme Court ruling Wednesday essentially allowing the World War I memorial Mojave cross to remain standing. The ruling reversed the appeals court decision initially declaring the cross on federal land unConstitutional, and then declaring the US Congress transfer of land to the VFW invalid due to its attempt to “avoid” the injunction.
The Supreme Court issued six separate opinions, with no single majority opinion. The decision itself (pdf) is largely procedural, though the net effect Read more