U.S. District Judge Larry Burns ruled on Thursday that the famous Mount Soledad Cross must be taken down within 90 days. However, he stayed the order until all possible appeals have been exhausted.
The Mount Soledad Cross is on public land that was in 2004 designated by congress to be a “National Memorial honoring veterans of the United States Armed Forces.”
The current version of the cross was erected in 1954 and has been a constant source of controversy and litigation since 1989 when the ACLU began to challenge the constitutionality of the display. The arguments range from the obvious 1st Amendment “Establishment Clause” to the “No Preference Clause” of the California Constitution.
ABC 10 News reports:
“The federal display was challenged in a 2006 lawsuit by the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America and several local residents, all of whom were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial counties.”
Congress seemed to have a much different view of the constitutionality of this cross when the land was designated in 2004. Breitbart.com reports:
In 2004, Congress passed a law making this city-owned display a “national memorial honoring veterans of the United States Armed Forces,” dedicated as a tribute to those service members “who sacrificed their lives in the defense of the United States.” Congress officially found that the “patriotic and inspirational symbolism of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial provides solace to the families and comrades of the veterans it memorializes.” Although the Latin cross is identifiably a Christian symbol, Congress noted that the memorial is also “replete with secular symbols” and symbols of other faiths, such as 18 Stars of David. In this pluralistic context, the cross plays the role of commemorating veterans’ service and death.
That law sparked the latest round of litigation in federal court. In 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reaffirmed its prior decision on this display, holding that because of the cross, the memorial “primarily conveys a message of endorsement of religion.” Specifically, it “projects a government endorsement of Christianity.”
The Supreme Court has denied opportunities to rule on this cross in the past but supporters are not ruling out another petition to the land’s highest judicial authority.
As a Christian I am saddened by this news. I would personally much rather see opposing groups funding the erection of religious symbols to honor their beliefs, on the same land, than to tear down a symbol that means so much to so many people. In the end no symbol can replace what is in our hearts but there is something very awe inspiring about being at the foot of such a great monument. It has the potential to inspire a little tranquility and lend to conditions of deep reflection.
In my area we have something called “Christ of the Ozarks” and I can tell you from my own experience that being in the presence of this statue makes it a lot easier to get into a spiritual state for me.
John Adams rightly said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
I have nothing but love for the moral and religious people of this country and that love extends beyond the Christian community. There are many good people that have different beliefs but are still pure of heart and strive to live by a strict code of morality. Not all religious beliefs are based on morality and those beliefs are contrary to the intent of the founders. Open worship of Satan and the belief that killing everyone who does not share your beliefs are not moral principles. Our constitution was not written protect destructive belief systems.
I have to believe that when America spends more time and effort tearing down crosses than it does erecting new ones, we are in big trouble. And if you look at the world around you, you might say that this politically correct mentality is at the heart of most of our problems.
I might take a moment to state the obvious and point out that San Diego has a literal translation of “Saint James.” I suppose we should rename the city, while we are at it, along with San Francisco, Los Angeles and dozens of other California cities which were named based on Christian beliefs.
How far are we going to take this? Do we need to rename these cities as well? Where does this all end?
What happened America?