This World War I monument, that has honored the sacrifices of American soldiers for 92 years, is going to be taken down because it’s shaped like a cross.
As reported by Todd Starnes, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the historic WWI memorial must be torn down – simply because the Bladensburg Memorial is shaped like a Christian cross. The Fourth Circuit said the memorial excessively entangles the government in religion since the cross is the “core symbol of Christianity” and “breaches” the separation of church and state.
Erected in 1925, the American Legion created this memorial in Bladensburg, Maryland, to honor the 49 lives of American soldiers who perished in World War I. The 40-foot statue has since become known as the “Peace Cross.”
In 2014, the American Humanist Association filed a lawsuit alleging that the memorial’s cross-shape was unconstitutional and demanded that it be demolished, altered, or removed. The group is claiming that the cross contains “an inherently religious message and creates the unmistakable appearance of honoring only Christian servicemen.”
The question for the Fourth Circuit Court was whether or not the cross is a memorial to servicemen who lost their lives in World War I or an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion that should be removed. The ruling from the three-judge panel was more towards the latter, saying that the “sectarian elements” easily overwhelmed the “secular ones,” deeming it an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment, according to The Washington Post.
Chief Judge Gregory, writing separately as the only dissenting judge, found the decision to be abhorrent: “This Memorial stands in witness to the VALOR, ENDURANCE, COURAGE, and DEVOTION of the forty-nine residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland ‘who lost their lives in the Great War for the liberty of the world.’ I cannot agree that a monument so conceived and dedicated and that bears such witness violates the letter or spirit of the very Constitution these heroes died to defend.”
Gregory added that the First Amendment does not require the government to “purge from the public sphere any reference to religion,” a notion that his colleagues did not concur with.
The judge also defended the monument by bringing up the fact that it had been on public property for well over 50 years without any constitutional challenge, a fact that was also rejected by his colleagues and especially by Judge Thacker, who wrote, “Perhaps the longer a violation persists, the greater the affront to those offended.”
Another legal expert, Hiram Sasser, said, “Today’s decision sets dangerous precedent by completely ignoring history, and it threatens removal and destruction of veterans memorials across America.”
The American Legion directly appealed to the US Supreme Court and are represented by First Liberty Institute and the Jones Day law firm in their legal battle.
The Fourth Circuit Court ruled that the memorial had to come down because it’s in the shape of a cross. Do you think the ruling is fair?
“This memorial has stood in honor of local veterans for almost 100 years and is lawful under the First Amendment,” Jones Day attorney Michael Carvin said. “To remove it would be a tremendous dishonor to the local men who gave their lives during The Great War.”
Although there’s a significant chance this case will go to the US Supreme Court, this decision could start a dangerous trend in the removal of all Christian references from the public square – something that would be an affront to this nation’s culture and history.