So what does it matter that a single cross is at a war memorial in San Diego?
On Mt. Soledad in San Diego, California, there is a war memorial honoring the fallen in the Korean War, a respectable and virtuous thing for a community to do. But, in the center of the memorial it has a single religious symbol, a cross. The cross is arguably the religious symbol solely of Christianity. People have been debating since 1989 that the cross, or any other religious symbol doesn’t belong on this or any government site. The 9th district court of appeals in California ruled that the cross endorses a single religion over all others. The court sent it back to the lower courts to determine what should be done with the cross.
Keep in mind, the Constitution commands that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” If this has any meaning, it means that through any direct or indirect act of congress, the government cannot establish a law that even appears to endorse religion. By owning the memorial, the federal government has endorsed this memorial and has chosen to keep the religious symbol of a single religion as part of the memorial.
So what does it matter that a single cross is at a war memorial in San Diego? A Jewish war veterans group, who was one of the individuals and groups that fought the presence of the cross in the memorial, said that it excludes veterans that weren’t Christian. So what about the Hindu’s, the Muslims, the Buddhist or the Catholics for that matter since their cross has Jesus on it? As a community, are we to begin to select the symbol of a single religion to represent all religions at government sites? Which we can’t according to the Constitution, nor should we in a Responsible Community. Are we to begin the process of determining what a religion is then place a symbol for each at sites such as this? That would be a confusing and exhausting task because if you would like to see a long list of religions of the world, click here. It would also set up court battles for those individuals that feel their religious beliefs, as minor and subtle as the difference might be from one on the list, are not represented fairly.
It is a very wise and thoughtful concept to not have a single religion established by any legislative body in the community. It is also wise to not attempt to represent all religions just to allow religion to be part of a government site.
Government was not established to govern our religious life, only our civilian. By keeping government out of our religious life it gives us the greatest religious freedom possible.