Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Two crosses - 275 miles apart

We have read lots about the cross atop Mt. Soledad lately, and the fight to keep it there as a war memorial. It has been a 17 year battle to keep the cross there. At one time, it looked like the cross would be removed, due to the actions of a judge. But, on Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill to transfer the land that the cross stands upon to federal control, to avoid the removal of the cross for now.

The vote was unanimous in the Senate, and it was sent to the President for his signature. He is expected to sign it. But, this is probably not the last of this battle. Some say this is a hopeless attempt to preserve the flag on public property, because it is unconstitutional to favor one religion over another. James McElroy, the lawyer representing atheist Paul Paulson, says it is a local issue and the federal government has no right to interfere.

The one cross I had not heard anything about was the one in the Mojave Desert, 275 miles away from Mt. Soledad.

Cross foes note that the courts have ordered the removal of other crosses based on federal constitutional grounds. Five years ago, the American Civil Liberties Union successfully sued to remove a 5-foot-tall cross of metal tubing in the Mojave National Preserve, although the removal is on appeal.

The Mojave Memorial was put up to honor World War I veterans. It is a cross made of metal tubing. It is now covered with a plywood box. The ACLU sued to have it removed 5 years ago, on behalf of a National Park Service worker, who said it violated the First Amendment of the Constitution. A judge in Riverside ruled it unconstitutional and it was held up by the 9th Circuit.

Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, intervened by passing a measure trading the cross's land to a private veterans group. A year ago, the same Riverside judge said Lewis' land transfer was invalid. The ruling is being appealed to the 9th Circuit.

Regardless of the outcome of either of these crosses, there will always be a fight to remove religious symbols from the eyes of the public. As someone said awhile back on a blog, I am waiting for someone to say that it is wrong for all those crosses being put at the head of our soldiers in Arlington Cemetery. Where is the uprising?

Linked at Conservative Cat
Don Surber
Stop The ACLU
Church and State

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