February 24, 2009

An 8-foot-tall cross in Mojave National Preserve, set up by the VFW in 1934 as a war memorial, maintained by the National Park Service.

A violation of the Establishment Clause? The Supreme Court will decide.
The American Civil Liberties Union objected to the cross and filed a suit on behalf of Frank Bruno, a Catholic and former Park Service employee. The suit noted that the government had denied a request to have a Buddhist shrine erected near the cross.

Two years ago, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for the ACLU and declared the cross an "impermissible governmental endorsement of religion."

Congress has intervened to try to save the cross by transferring a small parcel of land with the cross on it to a private group. However, the 9th circuit judges were unswayed. This "would leave a little donut hole of land with a cross in the midst of a vast federal preserve," the appeals court said.

Bush administration lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court last fall and said the "seriously misguided decision" will require the government "to tear down a cross that has stood without incident for 70 years as a memorial to fallen service members." The government also questioned whether Bruno should have standing to challenge the cross, since he lives in Oregon and suffers no obvious harm because of the Mojave cross.
So the 9th Circuit opinion can easily be wiped away with a standing decision, or the Court can reach the merits. If it does, I predict confidently that the Court will find the cross constitutional, based upon the principle old things carved in stone should be left alone.

***

A reminder:

117 comments:

Steve in Toronto said...

A judgment worthy of Solomon

hdhouse said...

It is benign enough unless you aren't Christian and of course there is the rub.

I wonder why it had to be and has to be a cross that is the monument figure? Perhaps the Court could decide when a cross is a religious symbol and when it is merely symbolic of rememeberance.

Will the decision come down to "who pays" for the maintenance?

Leland said...

What war is being memorialized? Is it a memorial to all who died in that war, or particularly to those from the Mojave area that died in that war? Was one of the people memorialized Buddhist?

Otherwise, I think the cross, like many of those crosses sitting in Arlington National Cemetary represents the religion of those honored by the memorial.

I find the wiki description to be unuseful (no big surprise): The court found the land exchange to be a transparent "attempt by the government to evade the permanent injunction enjoining the display of the Latin cross" on federal land.

Again, lots of Latin crosses dotting Arlington National Cemetary.

Host with the Most said...

Actually, I want the Supreme COurt to define once and for all the meaning of:

"Religion".

That defintion, whatever it iwould be, would answer every religion/Constitution question.

But - and I truly believe this is the most important part - it would frustrate tremendously the anti-Christian religion of the whiners in this nation.


Jus'sayin.

That and fuck the 9th Circuit and their hatred for the United States.

traditionalguy said...

Just like the Indian Tribes feel cultural loyalty to Their symbols, the WASP culture has loyalty to their symbols. The war going on is to reverse the winners and the losers from 150 years ago. We now face NYU student types pretending they look more noble by saying "we would never have fought to settle, establish and defend the USA, we are so much smarter than those faithfilled christianists, who did it." The Greek Tragedy is that 5 noble idiots, like the NYU students, now set up for life as Supreme Court Justices, can do it by fiat, saying "this is Atheist Space, no traditional American culture is allowed to exist anywhere this Government exists." Who do they think they will get to defend them...the UN?

Hoosier Daddy said...

It is benign enough unless you aren't Christian and of course there is the rub.

Grow thicker skin so the rubbing doesn't chafe.

dbp said...

Old things carved in stone are the first to be destroyed once radicals get to be in charge. They are not the only nor the most valuable things on the list of what must go.

Lem said...

The ACLU in bed with the Taliban..

What does Titus have to say about this I wonder ;)

Original Mike said...

I am soooo bored with this infantile argument. I'm not criticizing the post, but the idiots on both sides of this issue who care more about fighting than the issue.

Great White Father George said...

...The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;...

Yeats

MadisonMan said...

Why not just have someone else maintain it who is not paid by the Government? Have a little sign explaining its presence and the Establishment Clause. It can be a teaching moment for everyone.

tim maguire said...

The excerpt questions Bruno's standing based on his residence in Oregon. I question it based on his Catholicism.

Couldn't they find a Buddhist who had heart palpitations after coming across the cross while on a hike? No, I imagine they couldn't since a Buddhist wouldn't mind coming across a cross while on a hike.

Couldn't they find an atheist?

Curtiss said...

So the 9th Circuit opinion can easily be wiped away with a standing decision, or the Court can reach the merits.

Wouldn't the Supremes rather just kick this down the road by deciding that Bruno has no standing?

Now that I've suggested that, and based on my keen ability to always get it wrong on predicting SCOTUS decisions, they'll decide the merits for sure.

What are the details of the rejected Buddhist shrine? Was it a war memorial, too. Or just a me-too-shrine.

rhhardin said...

You'd have to know the original intent of the stone carvers.

Original Mike said...

Couldn't they find a Buddhist who had heart palpitations after coming across the cross while on a hike? No, I imagine they couldn't since a Buddhist wouldn't mind coming across a cross while on a hike.

Couldn't they find an atheist?


On a canoe trip this summer in northern Wisconsin we put into a site to camp for the night. It's an established site on a rise of land a few acres in extent in the middle of a big marsh. The only practical way to get there is by paddling a couple of hours.

There was a trail leading along the water's edge away from camp. A couple of hundred feet from camp the trail came to a small clearing where someone had erected a big cross, maybe 10 or more feet high, out of two big logs. There were plastic garlands, a rough hewn bench, and a religous quote carved in the top of a stump.

No heart palpitations from this atheist. It didn't harm me in any way. I admired the effort that had gone into it. (My buddy and I did comment that two dry logs up off the ground in that manner would have been an excelent souce of firewood if we were in need.)

Pogo said...

I'll believe the atheists have mettle when they object similarly to a Muslim crescent or practice.

downtownlad said...

If this isn't a violation of the Establishment clause, then the establishment clause has ceased to exist.

A fucking cross on public property, and all other religious monuments are banned. Sorry - but you have to be obtuse to think this doesn't violate the establishment clause.

Unfortunately - our Supreme Court is obtuse.

Freder Frederson said...

Again, lots of Latin crosses dotting Arlington National Cemetary.

Actually no. The grave markers at Arlington are simple stone headstones, not crosses. Don't feel bad, Cheney made the same mistake--and he was living in D.C. at the time.

downtownlad said...

Funny how all of the people who were against the stimulus bill think it's fine and dandy for the government to maintain a religious monument that contributes zero to society.

downtownlad said...

Arlington National Cemetary is not a valid comparison. The deceased gets to choose his symbol. Lots of Jewish stars there.

Even Wiccans get their own grave marker.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/grav_mark.htm

traditionalguy said...

Christian culture is the low hanging fruit easy to pick off since the christians don't fight back against new found Constitutional rulings of the Supreme Court. They obey secular laws. But the rebels will only obey force of arms, all the while screaming that they are Victims of the christian cultural traditions.The end result is that Supreme Court rulings Outlawing all historical God symbols and historical God faith speech leads only to outlawing of Judaic and Christian culture, but permitting all other religious faiths to claim dominance in the name of Folk Ways or Earth Saving or Air Saving, or anything basically pagan in origins. What does the Judaic and Christian Scriptures do to draw such hatred upon its followers? Make people immune from deception, I suspect.

Pogo said...

Atheists and establishment purists are wankers unless they object to Islam as it is being installed in various cities across the US, e.g. Mpls.

Pussies.

Original Mike said...

[Militant] atheists [who actually give a shit about these stupid arguments] and establishment purists are wankers unless they object to Islam as it is being installed in various cities across the US, e.g. Mpls.

Fixed your post, Pogo.

TosaGuy said...

This cross is more of a cultural resource than it is a religious symbol. It was done in the pursuit of a vets org honoring vets, not a religious group promoting religion. The NPS has a duty to protect the cultural resources in its possesion, part of which includes managing new construction in the area around its cultural resources (for the records I do not know the historic status of this particular monument)

I evaluate cultural resources for eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places for a living...a NPS program. On the NPS evaluation form, I would cite this monument under the category of "recreation and culture: monument/marker" category. None of the religous categories in the NPS evaluation criteria fit this structure because it was not owned by a religious organization nor used in the practice of a religion. It is a monument to soldiers and it happens to use a religious symbol. Since soldiers die in wars, the use of a religious symbol in a monument to honor those soldiers is natural. Simply put, the monument honors soldiers, not God.

People are ignoring the original and historical purpose of this monument and focusing on a particular symbology, which in this case is of secondary importance. This willful ignorance of the historic context surrounding the purpose of this monument is intellectually shallow and demonstrates a blind, partisan and ideological intolerance.

Pogo said...

Thanks, Original Mike.
You're right.

Nonmilitant atheists are an ever-vanishing breed, however; it seems to be the default position of late.

Original Mike said...

I am being a bit disingenuous. I do care to this extent. I'm with TosaGuy that this monument honors the soldiers, and I resent people using them as a political football just because they have an ax to grind.

Tibore said...

Damn, TosaGuy beat me to it. Anyway, I agree with him: In concentrating on the religious aspect, the fact that the monument is also cultural and historical seems to fly out the window.

If religious symbolism is the sticking point, erect a plaque explaining that the government does not endorse any specific creed, that the monument was erected in a time when such imagry was seen as uncontroversial, and is now maintained as a cultural and historical artifact. But don't take it down. There's little to be gained in regards to religious tolerance by removing the artifact, and there's plenty of object-lesson-potential to be had by maintaining it. On top of that, there are many reasons to keep the monument that don't have to do with endorsing religion. It's just counterproductive to remove it.

traditionalguy said...

The Cross represent a belief in the conquering of death by a Jewish Rabbi on Easter morning around 33 AD. That faith puts the fear of death away long enough to commit ones self to fight and risk death. I want friends who will die for me when I go into a fight alongside of them. Now tell me again how silly that faith seems to you atheists.

bearbee said...

Bruno's name is correctly Buono and he was party to United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Buono v. Norton

If the Buddhist shrine had been allowed would ACLU sued?

Will government nationalization of banking, the auto industry, hospitals, etc., and government stimulus received by any group or individual, require the ditching of all religious symbols?

TosaGuy said...

bearbee,

already happening. Marquette, a Catholic university, is also the official state dental school. It's new dental school building (partially funded with state money) could not have any religious symbols in it.

George Grady said...

downtownlad:

If this isn't a violation of the Establishment clause, then the establishment clause has ceased to exist.

You clearly have no idea what the "establishment" of a religion means.

Smilin' Jack said...

The Supreme Court will decide.

Good. I wish people would put up lots of crosses everywhere, so the SC and the gazillions of lawyers in this country could spend their time and energy "deciding" about them, and leave the rest of us alone.

Ignorance is Bliss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ignorance is Bliss said...

If this isn't a violation of the Establishment clause, then the establishment clause has ceased to exist.

Well, yes, except for that part about "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

Since Congress has made no such law, it seems like that small bit of it is still in force.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Oops, my bad. I quoted just a portion of a sentence, but ended it with a period. That should have been:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."

Sorry

john said...

It's interesting, how the suit was initiated. Frank Buono was asst. Super at the Preserve when it was initially formed in the early 1990's from what was BLM land, then the Mojave National Scenic Area, finally the Mojave National Preserve - essentially all federal land transfers. The cross was built on BLM land, an agency that has historically been passive in regards to what can be built, grazed, shot, dug, driven on, blown up, or burned on lands it manages.

Work toward creation of the Preserve in the early-mid 1990's (together with the Ca Desert Protection Act) caused tremendous local resentment because of all the new restrictions; a lot of which was taken out on the few NPS and BLM employees stationed there. The local Congressman had Park funding cut to a dollar a year, resulting in most of the NPS personnel being laid off or transferred to other parks, including Frank Buono, I believe.

Buono called the S. Cal ACLU in 1999 after he resigned/retired and told them about the cross; ACLU quickly informed NPS that it must be removed or they intended to sue, which they did in 2001. DOJ, during the suit and appeal, told NPS to cover the cross with a tarp (confirming opinion that there is no intelligent life in that agency).

I wonder why Buono would have instigated the suit. Maybe it was payback time for the bad treatment he received from the locals a few years earlier. It seems hard to believe that he, or any career NPS employee, would be offended by a symbol that occurs in numerous Park units around the country. The mention that he was "Catholic"? I'm not saying Mr. Buono isn't what he says he is, but it should be irrelevant. (Working with NPS people for more than 2 decades, it seems their religion is mostly a mix of druidism and environmentalism, with a couple of Unitarians).

I'm not a lawyer, but I think that neither the trial and appellate courts saw this case as one they wanted, so the easiest course was to decide for the plaintiff, punt it upstairs and let SCOTUS determine the constitutional issue. That's probably for the best.

Finally, I think the land transfer should be an important consideration, especially given the history of treatment of BLM lands. Aside from the Arlington Cemetery comparison, the NPS has many times obtained ownership of inholdings and other private lands for cultural and historical/religious reasons, which have been maintained at public expense. The Mormon Pioneer Trail comes to mind.

Lawgiver said...

Actually no. The grave markers at Arlington are simple stone headstones, not crosses. Don't feel bad, Cheney made the same mistake--and he was living in D.C. at the time.


Actually it appears to be headstones with crosses carved in the headstones. Does it really make a difference whether the stone is shaped like a cross or the cross symbol is carved into the stone?

Is this another Cheney lied moment?

Doug Sundseth said...

I trust that those opposed to this monument are just as opposed to the existence of the Medicine Wheel National Historic Site? Federal land, religious marker (with specific religious intent, here), and lawsuit (decided in favor of protecting the religious site, btw).

Freder Frederson said...

Is this another Cheney lied moment?

Actually it is, because the incident I am referring to was one where he said he was inspired by the rows of crosses in Arlington as he flew up the Potomac. Now unless he has superman vision (which is entirely possible), it would be impossible for him to see crosses engraved on the headstones from a helicopter. He misstated the shape of the markers at Arlington (if he even flew over Arlington at all) for literary effect and to pander.

Lawgiver said...

Arlington National Cemetary is not a valid comparison. The deceased gets to choose his symbol.

Really? Do you think the 16,000 civil war dead who were buried there got to choose their symbols? I bet many non-Christians were buried under crosses. Maybe we better research this and fix it, we wouldn't want an atheist who died 140 years ago to have an inappropriate headstone.

John said...

When was the environmental lawyer at Fort Hood, Texas we had a medicine wheel on the north end of post. It is still there. Now, the wheel is of dubious validity. Some archiologists will tell you that it is bunk. The Indians swear it is legit and fight over its use constantly.

In order to comply with the Archealogical Resources Protection Act, the Army had to keep its location secret, expend resources fencing the thing off and let the Indians come there two or three times a year to conduct religous cerimonies. Only Indians are allowed to see the thing or conduct cerimonies on it.

Now imagine if we had found an old church on post and spent money preserving it and allowed Christians and only conduct religous cerimonies on it. Can you imagine the heart attacks creatures like Downtown Lad would have? Yet, there has never been and likly never will be a peep out of such people about the medicine wheel.

We ought to start calling the establishment clause fundementalists what they are; the petty Christian oppressors. Well fuck them and the horse they road in on. I am a Christian. My religion survived the likes of Nero and Muhammad. It will survive petty piss ants like Downtown Lad.

john said...

Freder,

Did Cheney say "It was seared into my memory for life"? If not, he could have been mistaken. Happens with age.

Lawgiver said...

Give it up Freder. The new Liar in Chief your bud Obama. It would be interesting though to hear his weasely take on this issue.

Lawgiver said...

Can I say Obama and weasely in the same post or is that racist?

John said...

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:American_military_cemetery_2003.JPG

Clearly the ACLU needs to be suing the American battle monuments commission. How dare tax payer money go to maintence of crosses and those zionist stars of David.

John said...

I would imagine Cheney had seen the centaries in Europe I linked to above and confused it with Arlington. It is a simple mistake. Of course Federson wants to cruicify him for it. In contrast, Gaithner "forgeting" to pay a few hundred thousand in taxes was just an innocent mistake. Cheney confuses a cemetary and he is evil!!

traditionalguy said...

John... Thanks for that post.

exhelodrvr1 said...

So, some of the cliff-dwelling ruins at Mesa Verde, or similar sites, were used for religious purposes. Yet the National Park service maintains those.

Stephen said...

It’s interesting that private property “donut hole[s]” may be ignored if enough government land surrounds them. I wonder what the 9th Circuit would say if the citizens of, say, Salt Lake City, installed a religious symbol in a little corner Post Office.

Leland said...

I don't know, but this image from the Arlington Cemetary of Pappy Boyington's grave stone looks like... wait is it really... yep, it's a cross. (yeah, and a pagan symbol below! Two religions established in one monument on national land!)

Another Freder Failure!

I see lawgiver is already on the case...

john said...

traditionalguy said...
John... Thanks for that post.


For both of us, you're welcome. lol

One of the (many) aggravating things about my work happens when I participate in certain meetings in various federal offices, where I am forced to stand, silently, head bowed, hands clasped, while a very long-winded tribal member recites a tribal prayer in an American Indian language. To make it worse, sometimes it is subsequently translated into English. All of which costs the taxpayers $2-3,000 an hour when you include all the lawyers at the table.

John said...

"To make it worse, sometimes it is subsequently translated into English. All of which costs the taxpayers $2-3,000 an hour when you include all the lawyers at the table."

Have we been at the same meeting? Honestly, I am not offended by it. What offends me is the attitude of people who object to a nativity scene on a courthouse lawn but are okay with that. In the end, they are just racists. They don't consider Indians to be fully adult and worthy of the same respect white people are. Their attitude towards Indians is like an father's attitude toward his daughter having a tea party with her dolls; just play along and let the children be happy. Multiculturalism is just the latest expression of white supremacy.

Original Mike said...

he could have been mistaken. Happens with age.

Nope. He lied. Only explanation possible.

john said...

Maybe!

I meant it somewhat as a joke, and also to point out the 1) use of federal property for religious purposes, and 2) suggest that I couldn't use that meeting time to say the rosary out loud, even if I wanted to.

The Feds, as trustees, obviously get intimately involved in Indian religious issues. That's too big a subject for now.

Original Mike said...

the Army had to keep its location secret, expend resources fencing the thing off...

Heh. I put fences around all my secret stuff.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Well in an alternate universe, Christains would mob government buildings, have the Pope issue a papal edict calling for the beheading of ALCU lawyers, and then kill few hundred random innocent people, particularly unbelievers.

Then progressive, liberal minded folks like Freder would admonish those bringing the suit that they were being insensitive to Christian's deeply held religious beliefs and that Christianity is a religion of love and peace and said violence only represents a teensy weensy minority of peace loving Christians. So in the interests of peace, respect and tolerance, said cross should remain.

Kirby Olson said...

The cross is such an amazing symbol since it's a tool of punishment raised to the level of belief. I would suppose the decision would turn on the emphasis given to the first versus the second phrase, the second having to do with not prohibiting the free expression of religion.

Could the cross be protected since it is now an old thing in stone, as an heirloom of a prior time, as a heritage marker?

It'll be fun to see what the decision on this will be.

Salamandyr said...

I wonder, if the equivalent of Stonehenge were found on US Federal soil, would the ACLU sue for its defacement or destruction?

As for Cheney, I think in this case, it's perfectly legitimate to go after him on this one. The problem with these kinds of "exaggerations" is they cast doubt on everything else they say. Honest people shouldn't do it. If we're going to hold Kerry responsible for the lucky hat, Hillary Clinton for her bullet dodging, and Bill Clinton for, well pretty much everything he ever said, then we have to hold Republicans to an equal standard.

Host with the Most said...

Hoosier Daddy -

Best comment yet - you nailed it.

Freder - your pants are around your ankles, Dude! You got served!

Host with the Most said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Donna B. said...

I am so tired of the easily offended.

Host with the Most said...

Had to cancel the previous comment. Left it up just long enough to get screen capture.

Must write 100 times:
Should not hope for early demise of America-hating judges of the 9th Circuit and their extended families.
Should not hope for early demise of America-hating judges of the 9th Circuit and their extended families.
Should not hope for early demise of America-hating judges of the 9th Circuit and their extended families.
Should not hope for early demise of America-hating judges of the 9th Circuit and their extended families. . . .

Revenant said...

Funny how all of the people who were against the stimulus bill think it's fine and dandy for the government to maintain a religious monument that contributes zero to society.

I don't see the contradiction. The cross does neither harm nor good; the "stimulus package" does enormous harm. An innocuous government action is preferable to a harmful one.

Revenant said...

I'm surprised the ACLU couldn't find a member of one of the local tribes who wished to sue. That would make more sense, since the cross is not only on government land but on land the government took from non-Christians.

Lawgiver said...

That would make more sense, since the cross is not only on government land but on land the government took from non-Christians.

Since the Mojave Indians never signed a treaty with the US how would you determine that the government took that specific piece of land from them?

chickenlittle said...

This all reminds me of the Mt. Soledad controversy in San Diego. This has been going on as longer than I've lived out here. I read from the wiki article that:

On July 31, 2008, U.S. Federal Judge Larry Alan Burns ruled that the cross could remain, writing, 'The Court finds the memorial at Mt. Soledad, including its Latin cross, communicates the primarily non-religious messages of military service, death and sacrifice. As such, despite its location on public land, the memorial is Constitutional.'

I hope that that decision, and that cross, remain standing.

Ralph said...

My buddy and I did comment that two dry logs up off the ground in that manner would have been an excelent souce of firewood if we were in need.
Next time, take some black friends and kerosene and burn the logs in situ. Make it a memorable trip.

Ralph said...

Pappy Boy. was only 33 when the war ended. Robert Conrad was a lot older.

Seven Machos said...

How is this any different at all from that case with the "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance?

Also, since when can't you own land surrounded by other land? The Ninth Circuit is such a bunch of drooling idiots. Get out of your Stalinist cocoon once in awhile, tools. Look at a LMAP.

Ralph said...

Hmm Looks like venue-shopping.

dick said...

What I find funny about this is that I live in Queens, NYC about 5 blocks from the criminal courts building and behind every judge's bench is the statement "In God We Trust." The ACLU has done nothing about this at all. No court case, no nothing. This area is almost very heavily mixed of Jewish, Muslim, Chinese, Japanese, Sikh and Catholic. You would think they would complain about this but nobody does. This same people dosupport very strongly the ACLU with big bucks from this region.

Shanna said...

I am so tired of the easily offended.

Me too. Don't people have anything better to do?

BTW, there is a big stone cross at the national cemetary. I just googled it.

On Cheney's thing, I have a picture of the same thing in my head. Not sure if it's Arlington or another gravesite, but do they maybe put crosses up on Easter or Memorial Day or something? That's what I'm thinking.

Revenant said...

Since the Mojave Indians never signed a treaty with the US how would you determine that the government took that specific piece of land from them?

I don't understand the question. If the land was theirs, and the land is now occupied by the US government, and there was never a treaty whereby the land was ceded to the US government... how does that not translate to "the US government took the land"? Or are you saying that they can't establish that they owned the land prior to US occupation of it?

Oligonicella said...

Pogo --

"I'll believe the atheists have mettle when they object similarly to a Muslim crescent or practice."

How about the crescent Pennsylvania 'memorial'? Atheists objected there.

"Nonmilitant atheists are an ever-vanishing breed, however; it seems to be the default position of late."

Not really, but just like with religious people, the vocal militants get the face time.

Donna B. --

"I am so tired of the easily offended."

Lordy, lordy, do I agree. All sides of the religious fence(?) seem brimming with wanna be victims. Grow some skin and leave everyone else alone.

Revenant said...

'The Court finds the memorial at Mt. Soledad, including its Latin cross, communicates the primarily non-religious messages of military service, death and sacrifice. As such, despite its location on public land, the memorial is Constitutional.'

I hope that that decision, and that cross, remain standing.

I don't know if the decision will stand or not, and I don't particularly care. But I do know this much, which is that the claim that the primary purpose of the cross is non-religious is complete nonsense. Its primary purpose has always been religious, and this continues to be the case.

Original Mike said...

Next time, take some black friends and kerosene and burn the logs in situ. Make it a memorable trip.

That would be "making a statement". Not our intent. But dry logs on National Forest land are fair game as firewood.

Revenant said...

Also, since when can't you own land surrounded by other land?

You're missing the point.

The government is not supposed to get around limitations on its enumerated powers by enlisting the private sector to do things the government itself cannot do. For example, the police cannot simply break into your house and search it anytime they feel like. The ALSO cannot hire a private company to break into your house and search it on their behalf.

That's what Christians are doing in this case, as they have tried to do here in San Diego. The government is forbidden from using land for a purpose, so they tried ceding a tiny piece of land -- useless for any purpose other than the one the government itself is forbidden from -- to a private entity. That kind of stunt should strike any supporter of the Constitution as repugnant. Even if you don't agree with how the courts have ruled, the government is not supposed to deliberately circumvent court rulings by underhanded means.

Original Mike said...

the government is not supposed to deliberately circumvent court rulings by underhanded means.

That ship sailed a long time ago.

BJM said...

We had the same BS over the 103' tall Mt. Davidson Cross in SF which was lit for Easter sunrise service and Christmas for decades. The huge white cross is visable from the air and 50 miles at sea, and is as much a SF landmark/icon as is the Transamerica Pyramid or GG Bridge. So much so that sunrise services were held there in memory of Harvey Milk and George Moscone in 1979. Some may remember the national broadcast.

In 1987 the legal challenges and skirmishes began and ended in 1997 with the sale of the cross and small surrounding parcel of parkland to the highest bidder to end the fracas. The Council of Armenian American Organizations of Northern California purchased the site and designated it as a memorial to the 1.5 million Armenians who perished under Young Turk rule in 1915.

The Mt. Davidson Cross is lit for Easter sunrise service and on April 24th to mark the anniversary of the Armenian genocide.

So in the end the atheist asshats lost as the Cross remains and will rise above the city of St. Francis of Assisi in perpetuity commemorating the persecution and annihilation of an entire people for their religion. I'm sure the irony escapes them.

The pursuit of cultural purity always ends badly, why don't we learn from history?

Revenant said...

I'll believe the atheists have mettle when they object similarly to a Muslim crescent or practice.

Do you have an example of any eight-foot Muslim crescents being erected on US government land without drawing complaints from atheists?

Or are you just saying "I'll believe atheists have mettle when they start protesting something that doesn't actually exist in America"?

Pogo said...

Rev, that's only true if permitting a cross to be set up is establishing a religion.

Which it's not.

Do you have an example of any eight-foot Muslim crescents being erected on US government land without drawing complaints from atheists?
Yes. Muslim "charter" schools across the land. Most are taller than 8 feet, and paid for with gummint bucks.

Nary a peep outa youse guys.

Revenant said...

So in the end the atheist asshats lost

As did the Jewish asshats.

The important thing to remember is that only Christians matter.

Original Mike said...

Muslim "charter" schools across the land. Most are taller than 8 feet, and paid for with gummint bucks.

From that description, I'm against it. So there's one.

traditionalguy said...

revenant... Do you believe that the courts are our government? If you do, when can we get to vote on these Government Office holders? The Ronald Reagan saying that Americans have a government rather than a Government having Americans seems apropos. Or is that above the pay grade of scholars who insist on reading the 1st Amendment upside down as protecting the Government from religious citizens instead of protecting the religious citizens from the Government? Even Thomas Jefferson knew the difference, although always quoted out of context to strengthen the "Protect the government" stronghold in minds from any threat from reading the plain English .

Host with the Most said...

That kind of stunt should strike any supporter of the Constitution as repugnant.

Here's what I find repugnant:

The circumvention of the plain meaning of the words in the First Amendment.

CONGRESS - that's the US Mother-fuckin' Congress, NOT ANY any OTHER mother-fuckin' government agency of any shape or size or "importance".

SHALL MAKE - that's an action, not a passive stance

no law respecting an establishment of religion


That pretty much throws out all of the shit - including the ban on prayer in school.


Our courts are daily deciding on plain readings, but the Religious clause of the First Amendment has been hijacked by everyone from "Original Intent" to Communist Law Professors, and whoever has the edge wins.

Make it be what it says - plainly - like we do for the other parts on press freedom, right to assembly and right to redress - we have no problem taking the plain meaning on those parts.

Nope - Judges and lawyers have fucked this nation so deeply in the ass on this subject for so long that the nation now has brain damage.

BJM said...

Revenant said: The important thing to remember is that only Christians matter.

No, what matters is tolerance of all peoples, faiths and traditions.

Revenant said...

Rev, that's only true if permitting a cross to be set up is establishing a religion. Which it's not.

The cross symbolizes exactly two things:

(1): Christianity
(2): Death by torture.

Which of the two were the people who erected these crosses intending to symbolize, Pogo? Be honest, now. If the answer is (1) then this most certainly is an establishment of religion. You'd have a shit fit if the government decided to use a Muslim symbol to memorialize the people killed on 9/11; all the Christians here would. Well, why would you, if it isn't religious?

Yes. Muslim "charter" schools across the land. Most are taller than 8 feet, and paid for with gummint bucks.

I asked for an example of a Muslim crescent being erected on government land, not an example of crescents in schools which receive government funding. So let's have a legitimate example, please.

Nary a peep outa youse guys.

Your ignorance of reality is not my problem, Pogo. Atheists have been protesting government funding of religious charter schools for as long as they have existed.

Revenant said...

The Ronald Reagan saying that Americans have a government rather than a Government having Americans seems apropos.

It couldn't be less appropriate.

We're talking about government property on government land. The courts are not telling people they can't erect crosses on private land.

What this is about is the repeated attempts by the Christian majority to force the whole of the American public to pay for the celebration of Christianity. So get your hand out of my pocket, "traditionalguy". If you want the feds to pay for something, that means obeying the Constitution. And when it comes to what the federal government can do, the Constitution matters more than what the people want. That's the whole point of having one.

Revenant said...

"Revenant said: The important thing to remember is that only Christians matter."

No, what matters is tolerance of all peoples, faiths and traditions.

The term "asshat" is, of course, well-known as a term of tolerance to Jews and atheists. At least the ones who get uppity about having to personally support Christians on top of tolerating them.

Newtons Bit said...

This cross is a piece of US history. It should be landmarked.

I'd say the same thing if it was a Star of David or a Crescent or whatever. It doesn't matter.

Pogo said...

"If the answer is (1) then this most certainly is an establishment of religion."
No, it doesn't.


Your ignorance of reality is not my problem,
Why the vitriol? Cannot you merely answer straight, say, I disagree, and here's why? Shit, every damned discussion on atheism falls into the same angry funnel.

I don't learn a thing from them. I agree with you on many many things, just not this. But we cannot seem to have a civil discussion about it; maybe that's not possible.

Yeah, I know the ACLU has filed a suit. So what?
Are they Revenant?
Has Rev ever mentioned that here?

I asked for an example of a Muslim crescent being erected on government land, not an example of...
A distinction without a difference.

Cedarford said...

traditionalguy said...
Just like the Indian Tribes feel cultural loyalty to Their symbols, the WASP culture has loyalty to their symbols.


Next to Scots-Irish, Native Americans volunteer for America's wars at the highest rate. Their patriotism to the USA is exemplary. Almost all chose to be buried under a cross - and their stand on the Mohave Memorial is to leave the dang thing alone.

It's typical anti-Christian aggression by the ACLU.

The ACLU's Peter Eliasberg* said his clients would not have a problem with the cross if other religious symbols were also allowed in the area.

“If this were a public forum, that would be different,” he said.

A Jewish veteran of World War II and the Korean War at the news conference voiced his objections to the cross, although he said he has never seen it in person.


* - Peter Eliasberg is a NYC Jew, whose Dad ran audience research for CBS. He is Yale and Harvard Law School before becoming head staffer for the SoCal branch of the ACLU. He also had involvement in the latter stages of the Mt Soledad Cross case.

*******************
downtownlad said...
Arlington National Cemetary is not a valid comparison. The deceased gets to choose his symbol. Lots of Jewish stars there.


Not really. Jews have traditionally served in numbers in American and European wars at levels well under their population percentage. Especially on the front lines. Same disparity in Crosses vs. other religious symbols honoring fallen soldiers if you go to the national cemeteries in Normandy or the Punchbowl in Hawaii. Lots of crosses. What isn't a cross stands out by it's oddity, much as throwing a handful of white pebbles on a black pebble beach would.

What diminishes memorials and the history of them is the prevelance of "Me Too!" groups that demand co-equal billing or removal of a monument honoring the vast majority altogether. If society takes that course, you end up with monuments festooned with a Tower of Babel of "me too!" symbols, or no memorial at all.

It's not just the Mt Soledad Cross or Mohave Memorial. A group of activists wanted the CHinese Americans killed in the Civil War, all three of them, to have their "co-equal" statue along with something for the 3,000 black soldiers killed and the 657,000 whites who fell.
The Vietnam Memorial was beset by feminist lawyers bitching that the *spit!* men were honored, but nothing stood for the noble women who "suffered and stood equal to the men in their duty to nation in Vietnam"

Note: 8 women in the US military died on duty in Vietnam.

Original Mike said...
I am soooo bored with this infantile argument. I'm not criticizing the post, but the idiots on both sides of this issue who care more about fighting than the issue.


If it is all soooo boring to you, Original Mike, then step back like a good little sheep and let the judges and ACLU do as they want. Or watch as the Taliban blow up 2,000 year old Buddha statues and declare how "uninteresting" such "eradication of historically significant sites" is to you in the big scheme of things.

I liked Althouse's Taliban analogy. Generally, if you wish to destroy something standing a long time that didn't bother people when it was created or in years following, chances are you are doing a bad thing.

BJM said...

Revenant; good try but no banana.

Steven said...

"It is benign enough unless you aren't Christian and of course there is the rub."

It's benign enough if you aren't Christian, too.

I call for the adoption of a reasonable atheist standard. By "atheist" I mean a full-blooded skeptical materialist who doesn't believe in God or souls or leprechauns or alien abductions, and indeed thinks they're all just about equally ridiculous ideas. By "reasonable" I mean "me".

As the reasonable atheist, I rule that the monument is benign in intent. The form was ill-chosen by contemporary standards, but cannot be reasonably interpreted to have been intended to establish, promote, or further Christianity except in the most incidental way. To clear up any lingering traces of a claim that there is an establishment of a religion, the monument, and thus its maintenance costs, shall be transferred to a private organization in accordance with Federal law.

Next case?

traditionalguy said...

Now we christians are stealing from the Government by using a public area for a monument. By the same principle the cities named by the Catholic Missionaries,such as Fr. Sera who named California's coastal Missions, are stealing Naming Rights from the Legal Archonate of 5 unelected persons for life. Talk about arrogance, that tops them all.The true stealing from the richness in our national life from a people free to worship God has all been going in the other direction since 1962.

Original Mike said...

I'd like to join Steven in a concurring opinion.

Revenant said...

Why the vitriol?

You call atheists a bunch of wankers and pussies and then ask "why the vitriol? Got any other stupid questions?

Cannot you merely answer straight, say, I disagree, and here's why?

You made an ad hominem attack because you weren't aware of something anyone who follows the news would already know -- that atheists are already protesting government funding of Islam and Islamic education. Now, could I politely explain why your remarks were idiotic without actually calling you an idiot? Sure. And if I had any respect for you I would.

Shit, every damned discussion on atheism falls into the same angry funnel.

Because just about every religious conservative who posts here skips straight to the insults and slurs without bothering to try reasoned argument first. Look at this thread. You, Host, Hoosier, traditionalguy -- you all started off with insults. Then you've got the nerve to complain that people are acting hostile. Grow up.

Host with the Most said...

You, Host, Hoosier, traditionalguy -- you all started off with insults. Then you've got the nerve to complain that people are acting hostile. Grow up.

Rev,
Don't include me in the group that has the nerve to complain that people are acting hostile. I didn't do that. Insults - yes, but not at you or any atheists or anyone of any religious stripe.

My complaint is with the idiots who "interpret" what the Constitution means rather than what it SAYS. Granted, we will never go back to the simple words plain meaning. But that doesn't mean that we can't hold every asshole Judge and attorney who has created this never-ending problem in eternal contempt for the damage they have done to the United States.

Revenant said...

As the reasonable atheist, I rule that the monument is benign in intent. The form was ill-chosen by contemporary standards, but cannot be reasonably interpreted to have been intended to establish, promote, or further Christianity except in the most incidental way.

Before we can determine if the cross was benign in intent we need to ask -- why a cross? Why pick one of the most famously sectarian symbols in the world?

Suppose you're a Jewish man in 1934. Your father died fighting WW1. You're asked what symbol you would like for his memorial. Is there any chance whatsoever that you'll pick a cross? Of course not. Is there an excellent chance you'd see a cross as specifically NOT representing your Jewish father? Certainly. The same issues exist for atheist veterans and families, Muslim veterans and families, etc.

So why a cross? Why pick something that non-Christians won't feel represents them? The answer is simple: because the American society of 1934 didn't think non-Christians counted as real Americans. While not as badly treated as blacks, non-Christians were openly discriminated against and routinely banned from participation in much of society. In short, a cross was chosen because nobody cared if Jewish and atheist veterans felt represented by it or not. So while the cross might not have been chosen for consciously malicious reason, it was chosen because the American society of the time was profoundly bigoted. Is that benign, really?

Here's a simple test to follow: if the specific symbol chosen isn't the real purpose of the memorials, why not change the symbol for something else? Why not a secular symbol, such as we would use for a memorial today?

Look at pictures of the Mojave, Mt. Soledad, and Mt. Davidson crosses. They've got the aesthetic appeal of a cinder block. The Mojave one looks like two steel pipes welded together, the Mt. Davidson one is an unadorned, and the one on Mt. Soledad looks like... well, cinder blocks. So this isn't about preserving a thing of beauty here. It could perhaps be about preserving an important piece of our national history, even if it does represent a time we shouldn't be too proud of. But even then I don't see how that applies to the one in the Mojave, which in its entire existence has probably been seen by fewer people than see the Mt. Soledad cross commuting to work Monday morning. It is a historically unimportant relic of an unfortunate period of American history, like the residual whites-only drinking fountains you can still sometimes find in the South.

Revenant said...

Don't include me in the group that has the nerve to complain that people are acting hostile. I didn't do that. Insults - yes, but not at you or any atheists or anyone of any religious stripe.

Sorry for being unclear. The "you" in "you've got the nerve to complain" is meant to be singular, referring to Pogo, rather than plural and referring to the list of people who threw insults.

Steven said...

Revenant, yes, that was the problem with the choice they made back in 1934. And that's why I would say "Don't do a cross" today.

But these things have been there for seventy-five years already. You go, "Ooops, that was a bad choice of design, wasn't it, good thing we wouldn't do that today" and hand the costs over to a private party to maintain, rather than knocking over a long-established war memorial, and let bygones be bygones.

Revenant said...

You go, "Ooops, that was a bad choice of design, wasn't it, good thing we wouldn't do that today" and hand the costs over to a private party to maintain, rather than knocking over a long-established war memorial, and let bygones be bygones.

I don't see why the appropriate response to a bad government decision is to have a private entity continue it. It seems to me that the appropriate response to realizing that something was wrong to do is to stop doing it entirely. The use of a cross to memorialize American war dead is not something the government ought to encourage private people to do, either. Certainly private citizens are welcome to consider dead Christians more important than dead Jews, but we don't need to be selling them the land to do it on.

Plus, why should a Christian group get to buy a chunk of a national park to promote their religion on? You can't even buy a chunk of a national park for most *secular* purposes. If I wanted to buy a chunk of the Mojave National Preserve in order to build and run a business on it the government would tell me to take a hike. It seems to me that there needs to be a pressing argument for why this particular use of the land is so vitally important that it earns special treatment. I don't see how a symbol of the old "only Christians are patriots" sentiment merits it.

Kirk Parker said...

Revenant,

"The government is not supposed to get around limitations on its enumerated powers by enlisting the private sector to do things the government itself cannot do."

Huh? Once it doesn't own the land, it's completely legal for the new private owners to have any amount of religious symbolism there. And if they really do transfer ownership by accepting an equally-worthless parcel of land in exchange, what's your problem with that? You veer dangerously close to the "but it must be destroyed" position here.

And dude, you appear completely ignorant about the history of the monument when you spout stuff like "you can't buy part of a national park".

chickenlittle said...

So this isn't about preserving a thing of beauty here.

I'll see your "thing of beauty" snipe and raise you one:

Take the Hollywood sign, not that it's threatened or any thing. Seen from a distance, it's the very symbol of a very secular and organized industry here in southern California. Yet up close it looks to me more like the backside of an old drive-in movie screen. It's harder to argue pleasing aesthetics when any "hillside" symbol is put under the microscope.

As for your more serious point:
So why a cross? Why pick something that non-Christians won't feel represents them? The answer is simple: because the American society of 1934 didn't think non-Christians counted as real Americans.

I think that in 1934, a simple majority believed that the cross communicated the message of honoring the death of and the sacrifice of the soldiers. You might say that the presence of a cross on the majority of private grave markers across the country represents a slap in the face of non-Christians, too, but I think that's hindsight and revisionist.

Revenant said...

Huh? Once it doesn't own the land, it's completely legal for the new private owners to have any amount of religious symbolism there.

So why aren't they selling off the entire Mojave National Preserve?

Answer: because they don't actually want to sell ANY land in the Preserve. What they want is for there to be a Christian religious symbol in a national park. Selling a tiny parcel of land to a private entity is just a sleazy way to achieve that end.

Which is ironic, since Christians are under a divine order to be honest in their dealings. :)

Revenant said...

I'll see your "thing of beauty" snipe and raise you one:

I don't see the point you're trying to make there. It is kept as a symbol of Hollywood, not because it is aesthetically pleasing. Similarly, the crosses are kept because they are symbols of Christianity, not because they are aesthetically pleasing.

I think that in 1934, a simple majority believed that the cross communicated the message of honoring the death of and the sacrifice of the soldiers.

Because that simple majority were Christians who considered Jews and atheists to be second-class citizens unworthy of a memorial. Polls in the 1930s found the only slightly more than a third of Americans thought that Jews should be treated equally with other Americans. The majority of Americans would have been insulted by the very idea of memorializing patriotic Jews or atheists.

You might say that the presence of a cross on the majority of private grave markers across the country represents a slap in the face of non-Christians, too, but I think that's hindsight and revisionist.

I didn't say it was a deliberate slap in the face, I said that the American Christians of the time simply didn't care if non-Christians felt offended or not, because those Christians didn't think non-Christians counted as real Americans. There's nothing revisionist about acknowledging that simple historical fact. The war memorial is a cross because only Christians counted to the people who built it.

traditionalguy said...

The claims of Christ-ianity are offensive when made right. It is the religious tradition most feared by all of the others because it usually wins peoples minds and hearts when allowed to be proclaimed. Revenent is right to fight hard to suppress it. That's how Saul of Tarsus started out in his encounter with those claims. Attorneys learn early that the best way to get a big new client is to beat him once in a Trial, and that makes you valuable in his eyes.You argue well Revenant.

Pogo said...

"you weren't aware of something anyone who follows the news would already know -- that atheists are already protesting government funding of Islam and Islamic education."

I have never heard you say any such thing on these threads, though I may have missed it.

And again, since when does ACLU = Revenant and ACLU = atheist?

Unless Judaism = atheist, Rev, you're quite wrong.

3 of 6 of ACLU's top national leaders are liberal Jewish activists.
Nadine Strossen, President of the ACLU
Steven Shapiro, Legal Director of the ACLU .
Geri E. Rozanski, director of affiliate support, is also a Jewish activist. Before joining ACLU, she was director for the American Jewish Committee.

If the only anti-Muslim stances the atheists take are through an organization that has 50% of its leaders being religious, that tells me you're wrong about "atheists" doing this or that.

Pogo said...

And Rev, I actually said Atheists and establishment purists are wankers unless they object to Islam as it is being installed in various cities across the US...

Key word "unless".
If that's vitriol to you, your skin is thiner than mine.

Original Mike said...
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Original Mike said...
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Original Mike said...

If it is all soooo boring to you, Original Mike, then step back like a good little sheep and let the judges and ACLU do as they want. Or watch as the Taliban blow up 2,000 year old Buddha statues and declare how "uninteresting" such "eradication of historically significant sites" is to you in the big scheme of things.

I liked Althouse's Taliban analogy.


What a piece of crap, Cedarford. I was outraged at the destruction of the Bhudda statues. They were beautiful and ancient. To equate them with this (concrete?) cross is one of the stupider things you've said.

Althouse's Taliban analogy was dopey.

chickenlittle said...

I don't see the point you're trying to make there.

You missed my point :(

It is kept as a symbol of Hollywood, not because it is aesthetically pleasing.

I meant that the Hollywood sign was rather ugly up close.

Because that simple majority were Christians who considered Jews and atheists to be second-class citizens unworthy of a memorial.

I grew up in Wisconsin, raised by people who grew up on farms. I never once heard anti-Jewish sentiments or beliefs, even though there was a fair bit of lingering racism. Maybe you're taking about some evil branch of "urban-Christians". :)

Polls in the 1930s found the only slightly more than a third of Americans thought that Jews should be treated equally with other Americans.

When polls conflict with personal experience, I go with the latter.

The majority of Americans would have been insulted by the very idea of memorializing patriotic Jews or atheists.

Here you're starting to remind me of an old roommate who constantly railed against the unfair tyranny of the majority.

I didn't say it was a deliberate slap in the face, I said that the American Christians of the time simply didn't care if non-Christians felt offended or not, because those Christians didn't think non-Christians counted as real Americans.

Why do you interject that malicious cause: because those Christians didn't think non-Christians counted as real Americans.

I don't get it and it doesn't follow, and it colors your whole logic. Maybe those cross worshipers just didn't know (or care) and had no malicious intent.

Original Mike said...

I meant that the Hollywood sign was rather ugly up close.

That wasn't the sign. That was Alec Baldwin.

chickenlittle said...

That wasn't the sign. That was Alec Baldwin.

Oh, silly me then.

Kirk Parker said...

Revenant,

"What they want is for there to be a Christian religious symbol in a national park."

No, what they want is to preserve a monument of some historical value, that was there long before the land was moved from the BLM (where almost anything goes) to the NPS.

Alpha said...

So there are lots of crosses at Arlington National Cemetary. There are also lot of Stars of David and a few Islamic Star and Crescents.

If any religious symbol is going to be permitted on federal land, then they all have to be permitted.

Would you support a Buddhist Shrine next to the cross? Quite simply, the government can't chose one religion, or its symbols, over another. The establishment clause requires that the government be neutral on religion. That is as it should be.