The Cross in the Mohave

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4, that a metal cross mounted to a rock can stay in the Mohave desert. I guess that’s a victory. It looks like so much discussion over nothing to me. The Constitution speaks of prohibiting the establishment of a state religion, not about what sort of symbolic gestures citizens can make. This cross was put up to honor those who died in World War One. It’s been there for 75 years. After one complaint, it’s a problem?

The four liberal judges say that any religious symbols on public land are Constitutionally wrong. They are all in Washington, D.C., aren’t they? They ought to take a short field trip across the river to Arlington National Cemetery. Want to discuss just exactly how many crosses there might be on federal land?

Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
–The Book of Luke, Chapter 19, verse 40


5 thoughts on “The Cross in the Mohave

  1. Work with me here for a minute. The traditional rationale for a separation of church and state is that the government either establishes or comes dangerously near establishing a state religion when the government (that is, citizens acting as representatives of the state or using land owned by the state) _endorses_ any religion.

    The justices say that “the Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion's role in society.” That makes sense to me, and would explain the crosses at Arlington: government isn't itself invoking Christian symbolism, but rather acknowledging the faiths of the individuals who are buried in the individual graves. In fact, far from projecting an image of an officially Christian nation, soldiers' grave markers acknowledge all the various faiths of individual soldiers, including atheists. Most of the markers are Christian because most Americans are Christians, but the underlying philosophical statement is clearly a pluralistic belief that all of the soldiers' individual religious beliefs are valid.

    In contrast, isn't there an endorsement of a particular religion involved when the state erects one specific religious symbol to “honor and respect” all the servicemen from a given conflict?

    [FWIW, I'm an atheist who isn't offended by the Mojave Cross, figures any reasonable objection would be adequately addressed by the state's proposed land transfer deal, thinks the complaint is silly and overblown, and is frankly kind of glad to live in a predominantly Christian nation. I'm just making conversation.]

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