My family and I recently went on a shuttle bus tour of La Jolla, Calif., a sort of Beverly Hills of San Diego and one of the most expensive housing markets in the country. One of the stops was the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial. A cross, which sits atop a hill and reaches 29 feet, is part of a landmark that can be seen for miles. Before the trip, I didn’t know the place existed. While I wasn’t privy to the political leanings of my fellow tourists, the occasion was non-political and respectful.
I wasn’t surprised when the tour guide told us the cross was the subject of litigation. The federal government currently owns the land under the cross. Atheists have been trying to remove it for years, citing an Establishment Clause violation, although the U.S. Constitution doesn’t bar the use of religious symbols on taxpayer-supported land. In 2011, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the cross unconstitutional. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
Can the cross be saved? It’s really a shame we have to ask the question. Regardless of how many religions exist in this country, the Christian faith is part of its foundation. I snapped several photos of the cross in case the atheists achieve their aim to have it removed. Last week, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) filed an amicus brief on behalf of 18 members of Congress who seek to save the cross. The brief denies that the symbol violates the Constitution, but offers a solution:
“At this juncture, however, Amici believe that the best course of action, in keeping with the goal of maintaining the Memorial as a longstanding tribute to our men and women in uniform, is to allow a private organization to continue to maintain the property as a veterans’ memorial, via a sale or land transfer. Plaintiffs’ assertion that ‘[t]he only remedy in this case that would be consistent with the Ninth Circuit’s opinion is to order the removal of the Cross from its current position at the center of the Memorial atop Mount Soledad,’ Doc. 341, at 5, is incorrect.”
The cross really is offensive to the unbeliever, isn’t it? So much time, effort, and money expended to remove a symbol of the Christian faith from land supported by taxpayers, among whom are Christians. Private ownership might quell the controversy, but I suspect atheists will come up with another reason for offense.
The cross is more than just a symbol of the faith. It’s foundational, a major tenet of Christianity. It’s where our Savior suffered and died to pay for the sins of those He came to save. In His resurrection from death, we are raised with Him. The cross reminds us that we don’t worship a dead god but the living God.