When is a cross not a Christian symbol? Evidently when it comes before the Supreme Court. On April 28 the United States Supreme Court in a split 5-4 decision permitted a cross to stand on public land in the Mojave National Preserve. It was erected more than 80 years ago by the Veterans of Foreign Wars to honor soldiers who died in battle. It has been replaced several times since then most recently in 1998 and is pictured here.
The case was brought by Frank Buono, a retired Park Service worker who sued the National Park Service because there was a cross but no other religious symbols on government/public lands. He won the case in lower federal court but Congress tried to go around that ruling by a land-transfer deal in 2004 with the VFW. The Supreme Court’s ruling was whether the land-transfer was appropriate and the majority of the Supreme Court led by Justice Kennedy approved of the land transfer but also stated “Although certainly a Christian symbol, the cross was not emplaced on Sunrise Rock to promote a Christian message,” While dissenting justice John Paul Stevens said: “The cross is not an universal symbol of sacrifice. It is the symbol of one particular sacrifice, and that sacrifice carries deeply significant meaning for those who adhere to the Christian faith.”
What is the majority thinking? The cross is indeed a Christian symbol. Even in National Cemetaries if one is a non-Christian the cross is not used. For Kennedy and the court to claim that although its intent was not to promote a Christian message is just a false claim. For Jews and others who are not Christian the cross’ presence promotes a Christian message always. In the 1930’s when the cross was erected by the VFW its intent was just that. I find it strange that the majority of conservative justices, Kennedy, Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia deny the original intent of the “founders” since that is the conservative claim always about the U.S. Constitution. They want to find the original intent rather than what it means today.
The cross then and now is representative of Christianity. It is not a memorial to the war dead–make it non-denominational–an American Eagle, a plain marble slab, a flag, the riderless horse with the backwards boot used in military funerals, the symbols of American civil religion. But don’t use a cross and tell this Jew it isn’t about Christianity!
Shame on the Supreme Court. Shame on Congress. Shame on the VFW. When is a cross not a Christian Symbol? When the Supreme Court gets its hands on it. They just want to twist and turn it their way.
P.S. It was reported yesterday in the Christian Science Monitor that vandals removed the cross sparking outrage among veterans.