A Sunday Mystery To Ponder
L.A. Times story yesterday on the ongoing battle over the 43 foot cross atop Mt. Soledad in San Diego. The cross was slated for removal by judicial order, but Congress passed a bill in 2006 and President Bush signed it, "transferring the property to the federal government as an official war memorial."
"On walls surrounding the cross are 2,000-plus plaques memorializing the lives of service personnel, including soldiers who served in the Spanish-American War and Marines killed in Iraq.
"Then in late July, a new judge issued a ruling that seemed to wash away all the previous rulings that had favored the plaintiffs. [i.e. unconsituttional intrusion of religion on public property.]
"U.S. District Judge Larry Burns ruled that Congress had taken the property not to advance Christianity, but to maintain the cross as an integral part of a war memorial. As such, he reasoned, there was nothing unconsitutional about the cross.
"In a 36-page opinion, Burns, a graduate of San Diego's Point Loma Nazarene University, ruled that a cross doesn't necessarily have to be seen as a religious symbol:
"The Latin cross is, to be sure, the preeminent symbol of Christianity, but it does not follow that the cross has no other meaning or significance. Depending on the context in which it is displayed, the cross may evoke no particular religious impression at all." . . . .
"The cross has a broadly-understood ancillary meaning as a symbol of military service, sacrifice,and death; it is displayed along with mumerous purely secular symbols in an overall context that reinforces its secular message."
Needless to say, " . . . . .the ACLU, representing several plaintiffs including the Jewish War Veterans aof the Unites States of America, has appealed Burns' ruling to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals."
Now, that's a good one. The Latin cross is now understood as a symbol of military service? The Latin cross "may evoke no particular religious impression at all? "
Really. I guess when President Bush used the words "crusade" in speaking of his war in Iraq, he wasn't kidding. Our soldiers must all now be wearing shoulder patches bearing a cross? Or heading into battle carrying the American Flag surmounted by a cross and singing "Onward Christian Soldiers?"
And, pray tell, what "secular impression" does a cross give that doesn't involve a "christian" meaning that relates to death, resurrection, and/or salvation of a particular type, all relating to. . . uh . . .Christ?
If, instead of a 43-foot cross atop Mt. Soledad, what would happen if they had replaced that with a 43-foot Star of David? Why wouldn't that be seen as "a symbol of military service, sacrifice and death. . .?" And surely the Star of David has a "secular impression" not associated with a particular religion? Ditto for the Star and Crescent?
O.K. There's your challenge. In what way is the cross a "secular" sign of military service that doesn't "evoke" a "particular religious impression at all?"