Faithandthelaw's Blog

The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

Department of Justice: Put Up The Cross

Posted by faithandthelaw on June 1, 2010

There’s a troubling new development in the Mojave Desert War Memorial Cross case.

As you know, more than 70 years ago, the VFW put up a small cross in California’s Mojave Desert – a World War I memorial.  The cross has survived many challenges – most recently at the Supreme Court – with the high court just last month  – ruling there is no constitutional crisis – saying the cross could stay in place.

In an opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court correctly concluded that “a Latin cross is not merely a reaffirmation of Christian beliefs. It is a symbol often used to honor and respect those whose heroic acts, noble contributions, and patient striving help secure an honored place in history for this Nation and its people. 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.”  You can read a summary of the opinion here.  The complete opinion of the Supreme Court is here.

We filed a critical amicus brief in the case – representing 15 members of Congress urging the high court to keep the cross in place.

But then, just days after the decision, vandals struck – they removed the cross – they stole it.  The outrage triggered an immediate response.  A replacement cross was quickly made and efforts began to put the replica back in place. 

But there’s a problem.  The National Park Service has refused – and now it’s up to the Department of Justice to make a decision.

This is absurd.  That’s why we’ve drafted a Demand Letter to send to the Justice Department – urging the Justice Department to put up the replacement cross without delay. 

It’s appalling that vandals would remove a cross which has survived a constitutional challenge at the nation’s highest court. What’s even more troubling is the fact that the federal government is opposed to permitting a replica cross to be put in place. 

Americans want the decision of the Supreme Court honored.  And that means keeping the Mojave Desert War Memorial in place.  It’s our hope that the original cross that’s been stolen can be reclaimed and returned to its proper place.  Until then, though, displaying a replica cross creates no constitutional crisis and sends an important message – the vandals – who decided to take the law into their own hands – will not succeed. 

We’re calling on the Department of Justice to take the appropriate action without delay and permit the replica cross to be put up on Sunrise Rock.  And, we’re sending a Demand Letter to the DOJ to do just that. 

“There is no good reason for the National Park Service to forbid the Memorial’s caretakers from replacing the stolen cross,” the ACLJ letter contends.  “Moreover, not replacing the cross will essentially reward those who stole the cross.  Finally, as Justice Alito recognized, removing the cross ‘would have been viewed by many as a sign of disrespect for the brave soldiers whom the cross was meant to honor.’  Likewise, failing to replace the stolen cross dishonors the memory of the veterans it was created to honor. Therefore, we respectfully request that you permit the caretakers to replace the cross immediately.”

You can read the complete Demand Letter here.

Now, you can stand with us and sign on to our Demand Letter.  And when you do we’ll send a miniature cross to the Justice Department on your behalf – a message – a symbol – a reminder that thousands of Americans want the Supreme Court ruling honored. 

Tell the DOJ:  Put the Replacement Cross Up.  Add your name to our Demand Letter now

Courtesy of ACLJ at http://www.aclj.org/TrialNotebook/Read.aspx?ID=954

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