It's Not Government's Job To Display Religious Symbols

Religious symbols like the cross, the Star of David and the Buddhist Wheel of Life speak with great meaning and power to the adherents of those faiths. They belong in houses of worship or in private homes and must never be co-opted by government.

Unfortunately, we continue to see efforts to merge religion and government through the use of religious symbols. Some people are not satisfied with their right to display religious symbols on private property. They want them on government land as well.

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear a case concerning a cross in the Mojave National Preserve in California. The structure was erected by a private group, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). The preserve is federal land. This would seem to be an easy case.

But this time, there’s an additional rub: The land on which the cross sits has supposedly been traded to the VFW for a parcel elsewhere in the facility. The argument is then made that the cross stands on private property, not government land.

This is a clear ruse to keep a religious symbol in the middle of a federal preserve, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals saw right through it. The Supreme Court should as well.

Furthermore, the high court should reject arguments that this cross is a war memorial. Men and women of many faiths and none have served our country with great honor and courage, and many have died to preserve our rights. The cross is not secular, nor is it just an interesting way to arrange two pieces of wood. The cross is the central symbol of Christianity; it cannot represent all of our war dead.

Religious symbols belong in houses of worship, not public land. The Supreme Court should uphold that principle.

By: Senior Policy Analyst Rob Boston

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