My heart broke as I read these words in yesterday’s Bloomberg report by Greg Stohr: “The cross, now covered by a plywood box because of the litigation, is perched on a rock outcropping about 100 yards away from a road in the southern California park.” Yes, because someone complained that this cross offended, it was covered, housed in a wooden box as a corpse in a coffin. How I hurt for the federal employee assigned to that task.
As of this writing, U.S. Supreme Court Justices stand divided on the case of Salazar v. Buono after hearing arguments stemming from a lower court’s decision requiring the removal of the cross memorial located on federal land in California’s Mohave National Preserve. A cross was first erected on this site as a memorial by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in 1934. It has been replaced several times since, but always with a cross.
A federal judge had previously ruled that the cross was unconstitutional because its display promoted religion on federal land. Congress responded in 2004 by enacting a law that charged the Interior Department with the transfer of a morsel of the land to the VFW in exchange for a privately owned plot nearby, thus technically removing the cross from federally owned property. Adding fuel to the complaint, the law also ensures the return of the land to the government if the new owner doesn’t maintain a war memorial. The law is now the question at hand for the Supreme Court. Bottom line, they are weighing issues of church and state.
Justice Antonin Scalia spoke in support of the display, generalizing the cross as the “most common” symbol used in commemoration displays for the deceased. He said, “I assume it is erected in honor of all of the war dead,” Scalia said. “What would you have them erect? Some conglomeration of a cross, a Star of David and, you know, a Muslim half moon and star?”
The outcome of this case could have a sweeping impact on the numerous cemeteries, memorials and historical markers throughout the United States. If their decision were to force physical changes in other areas of the country, tax dollars would be used to foot the bill – all because someone was offended, disturbed by the symbol of the one who died to save their life.
It is written, “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.”(Isaiah 28:16) But those who do not believe, those will be.
Christ is the chief cornerstone of the foundation of the household of God. (Ephesians 2:19-22) I am secured by this, not disturbed by it. But there are things in today’s culture that do disturb me. Sexually-charged advertisements. Vulgar language. Lewd displays. Atheist billboards that blaspheme our Creator’s name. They offend me. Perhaps coffins could be erected to house them?