Court Bans Christian Cross in the Middle of Public Lands

September 9, 2007 at 2:21 am | Posted in Atheism, Beliefs, god, government, Religion | 7 Comments

An eight foot tall cross that has stood atop a hill in the Mojave National Preserve in California is finally coming down.

In 2002 or 2004 (depending on where you read) a U.S. District Court found the presence of the cross to be in violation of the First Amendment’s separation of church and state clause and ordered the cross removed. In response the good ol’ boys of congress pulled a fast one to preserve the cross by enacting a one acre land exchange, transferring the property around the cross to private ownership.

Luckily this case went before a judge who had the good sense to rule that the government could not evade the law by way of the above land exchange.

“A grave constitutional injury already exists,” Judge Margaret McKeown wrote for a three-judge panel that upheld a lower court ruling. “The permitting display of the Sunrise Rock cross in the Preserve is an impermissible governmental endorsement of religion.

“The government’s long-standing efforts to preserve and maintain the cross atop Sunrise Rock lead us to the undeniable conclusion that the government’s purpose in this case is to evade the injunction and keep the cross in place,” the judge said. “Carving out a tiny parcel of property in the midst of this vast Preserve – like a donut hole with the cross atop it – will do nothing to minimize the impermissible governmental endorsement.”

For more on this: (new windows)
Court bans Christian cross on private land in public park
Government Loses Latest Battle Over the ‘Mojave Cross’

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7 Comments »

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  1. For Christians that might object, I would say that the more important issue is whether or not the cross occupies your own heart and has transformed your lifestyle, not if it stands tall as a lawn ornament.

  2. You are correct Rob however, it DOES “open the door.”

    But it doesn’t mean we should not continue the ‘battle’ so to speak.

  3. Why can’t schools, townships, states, and federal government agencies get over the fact that the writer’s of the Constitution believed in the separation of Church and State for a reason! What is it about the word “No” that people don’t understand?

  4. Thank Rationality for good thinking! What is it about some religious people that they feel a need to force their beliefs on others? Can’t they just practice in their own homes, churches, hearts?
    And, for Baal’s sake, read the friggin Federalist Papers before you start spouting off on how the Founding Fathers were actually all into religion.

  5. Erm, at least a couple didn’t believe in separation of church and state. That’s why the phrase only ever comes up in Jefferson and Madison’s personal writings, and they were deists. The actual requirement is not separation of church and state, but “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”.

    Jefferson went so far as to speak of an Abrahamic diety during his second inaugural address and wrote: “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice can not sleep forever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference!”

    It’s important to remember that the main concerns at the time where more worried about the English system, where religion had effectively been commandeered by the government, than anything else.

    This was just the appeals case, and a Ninth Circuit one. It’ll be appealed to the Supreme Court, and it’ll be overturned; this is fairly settled law since the Mount Davidson version.

    I’m a soulless animal; this whole thing really doesn’t matter much to me. I don’t particularly care what people believe, and I think it’s very important for some people to have something to believe in, and others don’t have that need. But when you’re so scared of a pair of sticks of metal to the point where you’re going to remove parts of history, you’re just as bad as the creationists insisting that dinosaurs were myths.

  6. Thank you for your history lesson, hakuin. Religion should be personal. It does not have to be forced on other people. It is NOT a matter of being afraid of a “a few metal sticks”, no matter what the form of those sticks might be. It IS a matter of pushing one’s agenda ahead of another. Our forefathers were indeed fleeing from religious dominance in England. Many fled from religious dominance in Spain and other countries. It is up to us to maintain those freedoms by keeping our citizens free to worship as they choose, and not to have others foister their agendas on others.

  7. Interesting result to the case. There is a similar case in San Diego that’s been ongoing since the early 1980’s without end, regarding a large cross on the top of Soledad Mountain on the north side of the city. The city delayed an impending ruling similar to the one Judge McKeown handed down by transferring the land to San Diego County’s jurisdiction, forcing the plaintiffs to refile and re-argue the case from the beginning. Perhaps this case will set the precedent to take these symbols off public lands.


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