Atheists Dishonor America’s War Dead


The Woonsocket, R.I. Cross was erected in 1921 as a memorial  to U.S. servicemen who answered this nation’s call to duty in World War I.

The Mount Soledad Cross in San Diego was erected in 1954 to honor those who gave their lives in defense of the stars and stripes in World War II.

The Big Mountain Jesus statue in Whitefish, Mont. was installed in 1955 in tribute to veterans of the Great War.

How ironic that, on this day on which a grateful nation pays homage to America’s sons and daughters that have fallen in battle, the three aforementioned war memorials are in danger of being removed from the respective sites on which they have stood for more than half a century.

In all three cases, the memorials are under attack by purpose-driven atheists who argue that the presence of Christian icons on publicly-owned land are unconstitutional violations of the First Amendment’s so-called “Establishment Clause,” which declares that “Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion.”

Well Congress made no law creating the war memorials at Woonsocket, Mount Soledad and Whitefish. Nor did lawmakers commission the crosses or statue. The memorials, the Christian icons, were all the work of private organizations.

So the atheists make the claim that the Establishment Clause is much broader than written. That allows them to assert than any war memorial on any public land – federal, state or local – must be entirely godless

But the time to make that dubious argument was back in the 1920s, when the Woonsocket Cross was erected, and the 1950s, when the Mount Soledad Cross was erected and Big Mountain Jesus installed. Not 90-something years or 50-something years after the fact.

And just how far are the courts going to let atheist hate groups go?

Like the so-called Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wisconsin, which has threatened legal action against both the city of  Woonsocket and the U.S. Forest Service (which leases the land on which Big Mountain Jesus sits to a private ski resort).

As Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Gilmartin said, in defense of the Woonsocket Cross, “Our national cemeteries are filled with grave markers including the cross and the Star of David. Should they be removed also?”

The atheist extremists  at Freedom From Religion Foundation – who not only have petitioned the courts to order removal of religious symbols at war memorials, but also to block the annual National Day of Prayer, and to strike the words “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency – would probably answer in the affirmative.

That is why they are unworthy of the freedom for which America’s sons and daughters in uniform have fought and died. For the atheists begrudge our fallen heroes a few acres of public land in places like Woonsocket, Mount Soledad and Whitefish simply because the war memorials there invoke the Son of Man.

Justice Department Stands Up For the Cross


I didn’t have much faith in Attorney General Eric Holder.I didn’t believe the Obama Justice Department would join such faith-based organizations as the Liberty Institute and the American Center for Law and Justice in appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to settle, once and for all, the long-running legal battle over the Mount Soledad Cross in San Diego.

But Holder came through yesterday. The Justice Department asked the nation’s highest court to consider the ruling last year by a three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – the most liberal, most activist federal appellate court in the country – that the cross must be removed because it stands on publicly-owned land.

Because the Justice Department has joined the appeal, it increases the likelihood that the Supreme Court will actually hear the case.

In its petition to the High Court, the Justice Department asserted that the Ninth Circuit panel relied on one test only to rule the cross unconstitutional, but that, under other tests, it could easily have found the cross compliant with the First Amendment’s so-called “Establishment Clause.”

The lower court’s decision, Justice stated, “effectively invalidated an act of Congress,” a 2006 law authorizing the city of San Diego to transfer the land on which the Mount Soledad Cross stands to the federal government for use as a war memorial.

Ignoring the will of Congress, the three-judge panel “called for the government to tear down a cross,” the petition continued,  “that has stood without incident for 58 years as a highly venerated memorial to the nation’s fallen service members.”

The Justice Department petition almost reads like it was written by Kelly Shackelford, CEO of Liberty Institute, or Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel for ACLJ.

While the evangelical community has its differences with the Obama adminstration on a number of issues, it should be quite pleased with Attorney General Holder, with the Justice Department on the issue of the Mount Soledad Cross.

Justice Department Should Stand Up for Cross


A deadline is looming for U.S. Atty. General Eric Holder.  Between now and next Monday, he must decide whether the Justice Department will petition the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case of the Mount Soledad Cross in San Diego.

Last year, a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco– the most liberal, most activist federal appellate court in the country – ruled that the cross must be torn down because it stands on public land.

Of course, the 29-foot tall cross has stood on public land since it was erected way back in 1954. And not until 1989 did anyone raise a constitutional fuss about the cross’ presence on the site.

What particularly offends foes of the Mount Soledad Cross is that the site on which it stands is considered hallowed ground by San Diego’s Christian community, which held  an annual Easter Sunday sunrise service at the foot of cross for more than a half-century.

All that changed when the cross got tied up in local, state and federal litigation by plaintiffs who professed to be acting in the public interest, who maintained that they simply want to ensure that the city abides by the constitutionally-required “separation of church of state,” but who really were hostile to Christianity, who really had animus toward Christians.

The city ofSan Diegohas gone to extraordinary lengths over the past two decades to address the constitutional issues raised by anti-cross plaintiffs and courts.

They sold the land of which the cross stands to a private, non-profit association. When a federal district court judge objected to the terms of that sale, they resold the land under terms they thought acceptable to the judge.

Then the Ninth Circuit objected to the sale, ruling that it violated California law. That prompted the city decided to transfer the land to the federal government for use as a memorial for war veterans. But the court objected to that too.

So two San Diego lawmakers, Reps. Brian Bilbray and Duncan Hunter, recently sent a letter to Atty. General Holder requesting that the Obama administration ask the the nation’s highest court to decide the two-decade old constitutional dispute over the Mount Soledad Cross once and for all.

“This Memorial, a tribute to our war dead, must be defended vigorously,” the lawmakers urged.

It remains to be seen how the Obama Justice Department responds. If it decides not to petition the Supreme Court on behalf of the cross, it will be an affront to Christians and an insult to those who’ve lost their lives in service to this country.

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