Removing Crosses from National War Memorials: Separation of Church and State?

I wrote this article on July 6, 2006. It’s rather emotional, but I decided not to edit it.

I just read on Liberty 4’s blog that the ACLU has been trying to get the cross at the Mount Soledad National War Memorial in San Diego removed because some atheist sued on the grounds of separation of church and state. I am outraged! What’s next? Remove all the crosses from every national cemetary and war memorial across the nation? Arlington National Cemetary? This is probably no surprise to anyone, but I am outraged!

Separation of church and state is not mentioned in—let alone directed by—the Constitution, and all that the First Amendment says on the topic of religion and government is that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (from the U. S. Constitution online). We do not live in a theocracy (though some people may incorrectly argue otherwise), and we do not have a state church. What we do have is a history of a Christian belief in God and a sense that we should be free from religious tyranny—one of the main reasons that our forefathers and mothers left England in the first place, remember? Separating church and state is indeed a muddy issue, one that’s been debated for centuries and in all sorts of countries and civilizations. Here in the U. S. I believe that the founding fathers were trying to protect us from a government mandated religion or from the banning of any religion. Yet the way this has been interpreted seems to be that we must all become atheists, or at least practicing atheists, whether we like it or not, because ANY expression of religious belief is an infringement on SOMEONE’s religion, unless there is “no” religion, “no” God: i.e. atheism.

“Under God,” “In God We Trust,” and an assortment of religious expression including but not limited to the display on public property of a nativity scene at Christmas are all being curtailed in the name of “separation of church and state.” Religion, I think, is already separate from both church and state in the sense that we used to have freedom of religion, a religion or any religion that is not state run. The state cannot dictate which religion I adhere to and it cannot treat me differently because of my religious beliefs. Separating church and state means that a church cannot establish laws, the state can. So in this interpretation, I can murder someone, and the church can do nothing. I can murder someone, and the state can arrest, try, judge, and sentence me. I can murder someone, and according to my religious beliefs, I will go to hell. A fine line? I really don’t think so.

There have been Christian clubs banned from public schools, yet if we tried to ban a Moslem club, all hell would break loose, and I’m not saying we can or should ban a Moslem club or any other religious club . . . including a Christian one. School prayer has been abolished, including the “moment of silence” during which anyone of any religion could have prayed silently, disturbing no one. Christianity is not something you “catch” by hearing someone pray or by seeing a cross or crucifix, just as I’m not going suddenly to become Jewish because I see a Star of David or a menorah or upon hearing a Hebrew prayer. But someone realized that a moment of silence would give people the “chance” to pray to a Christian God, and we can’t have that, now can we? And we certainly can’t have a cross, symbol of Christianity, cluttering up a war memorial and conveying the impression that veterans believe in a Christian God or that we as a nation do so. No, that is just reprehensible . . . to atheists.

Why do atheists care? I mean, if you don’t believe in God, you surely don’t believe in Christ and the sacrifice He made for us, so why bother about the symbol of it? The atheists I’ve had the misfortune of talking to generally seem to feel quite superior to those of us who “blindly” believe in God and have religious faith, and while they wail about their right to have a God free existence, it doesn’t seem to occur to them (or to anyone else passing these laws) that granting that right means that my right to God filled existence is violated. Now, I know that the atheists are not trying to turn us into atheists: just as no Moslem prayer will turn me Moslem, the absence of symbols of God will not turn me atheist. But my freedom of religion is severely impaired, and that should mean something, shouldn’t it? In fact, everyone’s freedom of every religion is severely impaired when no expression is permitted. And what about the veterans who fought and died for their country as one nation “under God”? Should we really rip out the crosses from all national war memorials in an effort to appease the atheists and the ACLU?

For stories about this case: and and (this article provide a series of further links)

For the Soledad National Cemetary site:

For information about and links to further information about the separation of church and state:

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