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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk
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    12.11.17 @ 04:37 PM
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    High court to decide if war memorial violates Constitution

    Further dissection of our history...

    CIMA, California -- Driving along a pockmarked road amid rocks and Joshua trees in a lonely southern California desert, religious controversy might be the last thing you'd expect to encounter.

    And if you don't look too closely, you're likely to zip right past the focus of a hotly contested Supreme Court battle.

    A federal judge has ordered the Mojave Cross, a war memorial erected by a veterans group 75 years ago, to be covered. It's boxed in plywood.

    The issue is less about what the cross symbolizes and more about where it sits: In the middle of the Mojave National Preserve, which is government land.

    The high court on Wednesday will consider whether the display violates the First Amendment's provision for a separation of church and state.

    "Religion is always very hard fought in the Supreme Court, and this is no exception," said Thomas Goldstein, a Washington appellate attorney and co-founder of scotusblog.com.

    "A single cross on a single plot of land has given rise to this huge constitutional controversy. The court will look at whether Congress, with a kind of wink and a nod, (can) say that this governmental cross is now on private land or are we (going to) say, no this is a governmental war monument and it has a religious symbol on it."

    Riley Bembry, who served as a medic in World War I, helped erect the cross in 1934. It sits on a 4,000-foot plateau and was a place of reflection for many vets who retreated to the desert in part to recover from severe lung diseases caused by mustard gas attacks during the Great War. An annual Easter service is held there, but until recently only locals knew about it. The site is not on any maps.

    Bembry never got permission from the government to erect the cross, but for decades nobody seemed to care. He was the caretaker of the memorial for five decades until he died in 1984.

    In 1994, 1.6 million acres of desert -- including the land with the cross on it -- was transferred to the National Park Service. A few years later, a resident wanted to put up a Buddhist shrine near the cross. The request was denied.

    Frank Buono, a former deputy superintendent of the preserve, filed a lawsuit with the help of the ACLU, claiming federal officials were acting unfairly.

    "He thinks that the government is in effect misappropriating this sacred symbol and trying to give it just a secular meaning," said Peter Eliasberg, managing attorney of the ACLU of Southern California.

    "It strikes me as sort of odd that it just happens to be in that shape," Eliasberg said. "If what they really wanted to do was have a war memorial, there are hundreds of other shapes that it could be in. ... Mr. Buono does not have an objection to the government having a war memorial there that's in the shape of a soldier, or that's in the shape of the Vietnam memorial."

    A federal court ordered the cross removed earlier this decade. A judge ruled that until the dispute is settled the cross had to be covered.

    In 2001 Congress got involved. Lawmakers prohibited the Park Service from spending federal dollars to remove the display. A year later, they designated the site a national memorial similar to the Washington Monument and Mount Rushmore.

    More importantly, the Republican-led Congress agreed to transfer one acre of land around the cross in exchange for five private acres inside the preserve. A San Francisco, California-based appeals court turned that offer down, saying it failed to satisfy Constitutional concerns.

    The land swap "would leave a little donut hole of land with a cross in the midst of a vast federal preserve" the court said.

    The Supreme Court has traditionally taken a case-by-case approach to similar First Amendment cases. Among other things, it has upheld tax exemptions for churches and the mention of "God" on U.S. currency. Test your Supreme Court knowledge »

    At the same time, it has banned government-sponsored school prayer and imposed limits on public aid to parochial schools.

    In 2005, a Ten Commandments monument on the Texas Statehouse grounds was allowed to stand because it was surrounded by historical markers. But the same day, the placement of Ten Commandment parchments in two Kentucky county courthouses was ruled unconstitutional. The high court called them "a governmental effort substantially to promote religion."

    Earlier this year, the justices ruled that a small religious group could not erect a granite monument in a Utah park next to an existing Ten Commandments display.

    This time, the Obama administration will argue in favor of keeping the cross and allowing the land transfer.

    The implications of the case could extend beyond the Mojave Cross. Individual gravestones are not at issue, but war memorials have long featured religious imagery.

    "There are 5 million veterans that we represent ... would be quite shocked and horrified to know that those memorials and the symbols chosen by vets 75 years or 100 years ago would suddenly have to be torn down by a bulldozer," said Hiram Sasser, attorney for the Liberty Legal Institute.

    Wanda and Henry Sandoz have been taking care of the memorial since Bembry passed away. They shake their heads over the legal fight that will take them to Washington.

    "I hope it won't be too long before we can look at the cross again without that stupid box," Wanda Sandoz said.

    "Yep, really. We'll repaint it," Henry Sandoz said.

    "I already bought some white paint," Wanda Sandoz said.
    Last edited by voivod; 10.05.09 at 07:01 PM.
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  2. #2
    Eruption =VH=316's Avatar
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    04.02.14 @ 04:23 PM
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    Oh FFS..........can shit get ANY more insanely stupid?

  3. #3
    Baluchitherium
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    12.13.17 @ 02:13 AM
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    There a website for this thing: http://www.donttearmedown.com/




  4. #4
    Atomic Punk Dave's Dreidel's Avatar
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    12.17.17 @ 03:33 PM
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    That little cross is the big issue?

    I thought for such a big deal to be made of it the damn thing must have been sixty feet tall.

    Damn some people have a lot of free time on their hands.
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  5. #5
    Atomic Punk
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    12.11.17 @ 04:37 PM
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    (Frank) Buono is deeply offended by the cross display on public land in an area that is not open to others to put up whatever symbols they choose. A practicing Roman Catholic, Buono does not find a cross itself objectionable, but stated that the presence of the cross is objectionable to him as a religious symbol because it rests on federal land.

    http://www.altlaw.org/v1/cases/1130932
    Last edited by voivod; 10.06.09 at 05:19 PM.
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  6. #6
    Atomic Punk
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    05.31.14 @ 08:17 PM
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    Cross went up fifty years before it became a national park.

    Fuck them.

    I mean, hey, if they take the cross down then we also have to scrub the prehistoric cave and rock paintings found in our national parks too because they had religious significance too.

    Fair is fair.
    "Nothing is ever what it seems but everything is exactly what it is." - B. Banzai


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  7. #7
    Baluchitherium
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    12.13.17 @ 02:13 AM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave's Dreidel View Post
    I thought for such a big deal to be made of it the damn thing must have been sixty feet tall.
    This is off-topic, but how about this one at 190 feet?

    http://www.crossministries.net/





    This is in Groom, TX. I've driven by this thing on I-40 and it is one big ol' cross on that flat landscape.

  8. #8
    On Fire Rare Painful Side Effect's Avatar
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    Too much time and money is wasted on stuff like this. It was there decades before anyone complained about it. The impulse to put it up was clearly non-religious; it was a memorial. To my mind, it's been grand-fathered in. Though, if other religions want to put up memorials with their symbols next to it, that should be allowed as well.

    I'd feel better about it, though, if outfits like the Liberty Legal Institute were not involved. That makes it seem sectarian by adoption.

  9. #9
    Good Enough wombattt's Avatar
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    05.23.17 @ 01:16 PM
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    Quote Originally Posted by VegasVic View Post
    This is off-topic, but how about this one at 190 feet?

    http://www.crossministries.net/





    This is in Groom, TX. I've driven by this thing on I-40 and it is one big ol' cross on that flat landscape.
    I've seen crosses (here in Texas) in people's front yards (in a Home Owners Associatio ruled subdivisions) that towered over the residence. A two-story high cross, in the front yard of a one-story house...needless to point out that Halloween at such residences is a bust.
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  10. #10
    Atomic Punk Dave's Dreidel's Avatar
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    12.17.17 @ 03:33 PM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rare Painful Side Effect View Post
    Too much time and money is wasted on stuff like this. It was there decades before anyone complained about it. The impulse to put it up was clearly non-religious; it was a memorial. To my mind, it's been grand-fathered in. Though, if other religions want to put up memorials with their symbols next to it, that should be allowed as well.

    I'd feel better about it, though, if outfits like the Liberty Legal Institute were not involved. That makes it seem sectarian by adoption.
    I agree on all your points.

    Common sense seems to be lacking in many of our national debates.
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  11. #11
    Atomic Punk Dave's Dreidel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VegasVic View Post
    This is off-topic, but how about this one at 190 feet?

    http://www.crossministries.net/





    This is in Groom, TX. I've driven by this thing on I-40 and it is one big ol' cross on that flat landscape.
    Wow, can I assume (hopefully) that it is built on private property?

    I didn't know Jesus was that tall, when the Second Coming arrives I hope he plays for the Celtics.
    Taylor Swift is nice to look at. Adele can sing.

    Emperor Brett - "I can't believe you guys are analyzing song-by-song Van Halen III? What next, analyzing the script of Stroker Ace looking for some shred of Citizen Kane?"

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  12. #12
    Atomic Punk
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  13. #13
    Gird your loins Daisy Hill's Avatar
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    12.17.17 @ 03:39 PM
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    all along I thought the framers of constitution had the intention of preventing the creation, establishment or endorsement of an official religion, not to prevent anyone of the practice of theirs, but that's what these suits do when you cannot display artifacts of your religion in public places such as courthouses and schools...they are public places, owned by the public for our use, no?

    I don't think it is unreasonable to say that display of items describing or explaining religious beliefs could lend itself to the understanding of these religions rather than relegating these displays to places of worship only, where religion is supposed to be practiced like some secret society

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  14. #14
    Good Enough brownnation's Avatar
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    Geez, I hate to pipe in and be a bring down in yet another thread, but religious symbols do not have any place on public property. There's a church every three steps in this country, those churches are there tax free, undergirded by the tax dollars of christians and non-christians alike. Why is it necessary to encroach on public property also?

    No disrespect Daisy, but Jefferson, one of the major players in that separation of church and state idea you were talking about, actually did want the wall of that separation to be build very high. It's not only the establishment of a state religion, but also the imposition of religiosity in the public sphere.

    I have not commented in this post, because I have so much respect for veterans and that aspect of this story has given me pause to defend the other side on this one. I don't know the specifics of this case well enough to comment on that, but exceptions to the principle shouldn't be made on emotional appeal. Generally, I'd say, let's respect soldiers (who come from all faiths and non-faith alike) for the contributions they made and not assume that all of them would want a cross to represent their honor and sacrifice for this great country. Let's honor them and not assume anything about their faith. In that sense, I believe this cross is more for the people who cherish the symbol of Christianity than it is honoring the soldiers. If you want to honor soldiers, then perhaps we can rightly place them as the focus of our reverence.

  15. #15
    Eruption =VH=316's Avatar
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    Then it should have never been there in the first place. But things changed AFTER it was already there.
    It's not as if this was put up 5 years ago......it's been there for longer than we have been alive.

    It's just another thing to waste money fighting about, and making a big story about nothing.

 

 

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