Thursday, May 13, 2010

Disputed Mojave cross honoring US war dead stolen

From The Associated Press
A cross erected on a remote Mojave Desert outcropping to honor American war dead has been stolen less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed it to remain standing while a legal battle continued over its presence on federal land.
Apparently the land transfer has not yet occurred. So the site is still Federal land. (See earlier post.)

Here's a bit more of the most recent (May 11) AP story.
Federal courts ruled earlier in this decade that having the cross in the national preserve was unconstitutional. The issue that most recently went to the Supreme Court was the rejection by lower courts of the congressional effort to solve the problem by transferring the land into private hands.

In sending the case back to a lower court, six justices wrote separate opinions. [emphasis added]

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the cross shouldn't be seen merely as a religious symbol.

"Here one Latin cross in the desert evokes far more than religion. It evokes thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles, battles whose tragedies are compounded if the fallen are forgotten." [Kennedy's argument makes the point for the other side. There are lots of American graves that aren't marked with crosses. They should be remembered too.]

In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens agreed that soldiers who died in battle deserve a memorial. But the government "cannot lawfully do so by continued endorsement of a starkly sectarian message," Stevens said.
It seems to me that there is a very simple solution. The cross proponents argue that the cross is not intended as a religious symbol but simply as a memorial to war dead. In that case, why not replace the cross with a non-religious memorial. Then the site could remain Federal land, and the dead would still be honored.

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