If you visit Bladensburg, Maryland, you’ll see a 40-foot-tall World War I memorial called “Peace Cross.” Not only is it clearly a Christian symbol, it’s on public property, maintained by the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission:
In 2012, the American Humanist Association asked the Commission to take down the monument. It was perfectly fine to honor veterans, but not with a symbol that elevates one religion over all others and implies that only Christian soldiers fought in the war.
That complaint led nowhere. So the AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center filed a lawsuit in 2014 on behalf of three plaintiffs:
“To any passerby, a huge cross such as this can only be understood as endorsing Christianity,” said Appignani Humanist Legal Center Legal Director David Niose. “On public property, that violates the Establishment Clause. We can all support memorials to those who have fought for our country, but they cannot take the form of a massive religious symbol on government property.”
It’s not just about the presence of the cross. The taxpayer-funded Commission pays for electricity to keep the cross lit up every night. And even when three other war memorials were installed in the vicinity of the Peace Cross, they were not nearly as large or easily seen.
Unfortunately, a District Judge felt the Cross wasn’t an endorsement of religion, ruling against the AHA:
… The Monument’s secular commemorative purpose is reinforced by the plaque, the American Legion’s seal, and the words “valor,” “endurance,” “courage,” and “devotion” written on it. None of these features contains any religious reference. In short, the record amply demonstrates that the construction and maintenance of the Monument “was not an attempt to set the imprimatur of the state on a particular creed. Rather, those who erected the cross intended simply to honor our Nation’s fallen soldiers.
The judge is saying a giant cross is somehow religiously neutral. It makes no sense. I guess you can shine a shit after all.
Seriously: If a cross isn’t Christian, than what is? Just because you put secular words around it doesn’t change the overall message.
The AHA hasn’t announced yet if they plan to appeal the decision.
(Thanks to Brian for the link. Large portions of this article were published earlier)