On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars


Why do they despise America’s crosses?

The disputed Utah crosses

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff asked the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday to intervene in a case deciding the constitutionality of memorial crosses honoring fallen state troopers. 

Shurtleff requested that the high court issue an opinion on the case after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 14 crosses bearing the name of a fallen state troopers violate the U. S. Constitution.

Prior to the 10th Circuit Court’s ruling, the court had upheld the cross as a non-religious display for fallen employees.

“With two simple lines, the highway crosses remind us of the ultimate sacrifice made by troopers while trying to protect us,” said Shurtleff. “The crosses only establish a trooper died in the line of duty.”

The lawsuit against the 12-foot crosses was filed by American Atheists, Inc. in 2005. The group sued the Utah Highway Patrol Association, arguing that the cross is a universal symbol of Christianity and that the crosses’ placement on government property – highway right-of-way – violates the Constitution.

The Mojave Cross before the vandalism

Meanwhile, a $125,000 reward has been posted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and an anonymous veteran for the return of an 8-foot cross that has stood on top of a 30-foot rock outcropping in the Mojave Desert for 75 years. 

The cross had been the object of an eight-year battle that made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court last year. In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that the cross could stand.

The cross covered up by the National Park Service

Within hours of the ruling, the cross disappeared. The National Park Service, which had covered up the cross with a wooden box, claims that vandals had stolen the cross.

A veterans group that had spent millions of dollars to finally win approval for the cross by the Supreme Court then put up a duplicate cross – which the park service removed, claiming that the duplicate was not the historic cross protected by the court decision. 

Park rangers at the Mojave National Preserve removed the replica replacement cross – declaring it was not covered by the Supreme Court decision. 

The landmark ruling protecting the Mojave Desert cross was hailed as a severe defeat for the American Civil Liberties Union and other atheist groups attempting to remove all Christian symbols from the American landscape. 

The Mojave Cross as it looked for decades

Now, allowing the vandals to win is unacceptable, said spokesmen for a number of Christian legal groups fighting to overturn the National Park Service’s refusal to allow a replacement.

“It’s appalling that vandals would remove a cross that has survived a constitutional challenge at the nation’s highest court,” declared Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ. “What’s even more troubling is the fact that the federal government is opposed to permitting a replica cross to be put in place. We’re calling on the Department of Justice to take the appropriate action without delay and permit the replica cross to be put up on Sunrise Rock.”

“This was a legal fight that a vandal just made personal to 50 million veterans, military personnel and their families,” said VFW National Commander Thomas J. Tradewell, Sr.

Veterans erected the cross in 1934 with a plaque stating, “The Cross, Erected in Memory of the Dead of All Wars.” Another plaque read, “Erected 1934 by Members of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Death Valley Post 2884.”

In 2001, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of Frank Buono, a former National Park Services employee. A district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the cross and the land transfer violated the Establishment Clause and ordered it removed.

The cross was covered with a canvas bag, then a plywood box. On July 24, 2002, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California found the presence of the cross on federal land to be a violation of separation of church and state and ordered  it removed.

In 2003, the U.S. Congress moved to preserve the cross by enacting a one-acre land exchange that transferred the cross from federal to private ownership. Congressman Jerry Lewis (R-California) inserted the land exchange as an amendment to the 2004 Defense Appropriations Act.

On April 5, 2005, the very same U.S. District Court for the Central District of California held that the land exchange had been a “sham” amounting to an “attempt by the government to evade the permanent injunction enjoining the display of the Latin cross” on federal land.

On April 28, 2010, six of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices wrote separate opinions in the case. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced the court’s decision and gave his opinion, which Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito Jr. supported.

Justice John Paul Stevens dissented along with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer.

“Americans want memorials to our nation’s fallen heroes protected,” said American Defense Fund Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence. “Congress was doing just that when it transferred the land under this memorial to the veterans’ group that cares for it.”

Looking at the pictures of the site where the cross once was, VFW spokesman Joe Davis said he was amazed at the serious planning and execution that went into the theft.

The cutting of the thick, metal pipes set in concrete was a serious undertaking, he says. When he first saw photos of the vandalized cross site, Davis says he was “in shock and disbelief. How could anyone have the audacity to tear down a war memorial to the dead?”

Davis says that the original constructors erected the cross out of respect for Americans who died during World War I.

“Three of the highest medals in our armed forces use the cross – the Distinguished Service Cross, the Air Force Cross, and the Navy Cross – and no one has ever returned one of those,” says Davis. “This memorial meant a lot to those veterans.” 

A number of Christian legal groups, including the ACLJ and the Liberty Legal Institute have protested the park service’s refusal to allow anyone to replace the stolen cross that has long stood on an outcropping known as Sunrise Rock.

“Passive displays like the World War I Memorial, the Ten Commandments, Nativity scenes, or statements like the National Motto do not force anyone to participate in a religious exercise and, thus, do not establish religion,” commented Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel. 

Ranger Linda Slater, a spokeswoman for the Mojave National Preserve, said a maintenance worker spotted the replacement replica cross, which was a half-inch larger than the original one, she said.

Slater said the new cross wasn’t covered by the Supreme Court ruling, so it was removed.



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Comments read comments(49)
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becky olson

posted April 23, 2011 at 6:24 pm


When I either read about or hear these kinds of stories, my heart breaks. As a person from a military family, friends still serving, and was married to a service member, this is unacceptable. Those who want to protest need to remember one thing– The men for whom these were dedicated to gave their lives so these fools could be protected under the 1st admendment–freedom of speech. They need to thank those men and ‘LET FREEDOM RING”. The ACLU is no better than the “Christians” from Kansas City who protest our service members funerals. Someday each and everyone of them will have to answer to God for what they have both said and done.



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Quentin Riha

posted April 24, 2011 at 10:34 am


Why can’t we put all these disenters on a boat out of our country and put them with the rest of their disbelievers, and leave out country to God. Shame on them! No wonder we are in the mess we are in, with rotten people roaming our beautiful country.



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Woody

posted April 24, 2011 at 11:01 am


The ACLU, and all the atheist groups it represents, are doing the same things they claim they are fighting against. They are trying to force their beliefs, or the lack thereof, on everyone else. It’s too bad they won’t know how wrong they are til it’s too late. They have their freedom of choice. Don’t ry to force your bad choices on the rest of us.



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Krzysztof Ciuba

posted April 24, 2011 at 11:03 am


Funny@Sad;a sign of time:the End?
Hm, A tyran is taking over US; communists before were fighting the Church@its symbols like Cross more violently.Judges should learn the spirit of Law not just a Law (laws) (2Cor3:6)

More: Atheists,…agnosticism prevailing in the heads of clerks;What is Education system (School@University) doing?



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g

posted April 24, 2011 at 3:07 pm


Sad and pathetic the comments I read here. Misinformed statements and prejudices that show no understanding but merely reflect personal dogma and knee-jerk reactions by the indoctrinated.

For instance: Woody said :” The ACLU, and all the atheist groups it represents, are doing the same things they claim they are fighting against. They are trying to force their beliefs, or the lack thereof, on everyone else.”

The ACLU fights for things it believes are constitutional and against things that it believes are unconstitutional. They represent any and all Christian or otherwise in lawsuits designed to test the Constitution.

The ACLU is made up of legal people of all faiths and religions as well as Atheists. The only belief they are INSISTING on is the belief in the CONSTITUTION of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA.

The fact that certain religions have enjoyed unchallenged power in the past and is now being challenged is really irrelevant. If the crosses are Constitutional, they will stand if not then they won’t. Hard to swallow, but by the Constitution if that is a violation of attempt to keep the Govt. neutral as to establishing or interfering with a religion, then we all win if it is enforced. Constitution wins, WE ALL WIN.

Woody also said : “They have their freedom of choice. Don’t try to force your bad choices on the rest of us.”

Maybe someone here with more knowledge of the US Constitution can correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t think ‘Freedom of Choice’is a Constitutional Guarantee.So ‘Freedom of Choice’ is not a legal issue at stake here.

That being said, I personally would be sad to see these crosses go down. I do think those who have died for our Country and their families should be granted some honor in their choices of how to display the memory of their fallen and it seems a bit mean spirited for folks to focus on this to use as a Constitutional test. My hope is that their display will be held Constitutional, but at the end of the day, I stand by the Constitution Of the United States of America and our great 3 branch Govt. and realize that these brave heroes ultimately died for the Constitution of the United States of America and the great Republic for which it stands.

As for the comments that people who go against ‘our personal beliefs and political positions should be loaded onto boats and shipped out is absolutely too insipid to address other than to say, THAT is why we have a Constitutional Republic, so that ‘Lynch mobs’ and little sects of people can’t harm others who dissent and challenge their beliefs.



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MH

posted April 24, 2011 at 3:54 pm


Hmm, I have two comments that seemed to go off to the bit bucket without any explanation why.



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John

posted April 24, 2011 at 11:48 pm


Pretty soon thes atistet moron will instes that they remove the cross in the cemetery and the judjes in the suprem cort will say they are right



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david

posted April 25, 2011 at 7:37 am


Some day these devil worshipers will be burning in hell with the devil. Jesus does forgive and hopefully these atheist will see the light before it is too late for them.



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g

posted April 25, 2011 at 9:27 pm


I see Beliefnet (at least the Christian part of it) has now , as it’s logo, Culture Wars.

Too too bad, articles like this one ‘Why do they despise America’s Crosses”…is an inflammatory title that is really a subtle Ad Hominem

argument that basically attacks the ‘proposition’ by attacking the person presenting the argument. So the argument doesn’t get debated with any honesty but rather the inference is ‘They Hate God, they hate Us , they hate America’ let’s get em!
Opposing viewpoints are silenced and basically it just becomes a fist shaking, banner waving mob.

I am saddened that Belief net is now headed by the title CULTURE WARS thereby moving the work of Jesus into merely a political and cultural movement. The Bible said that the warfare is ‘spiritual’ not carnal but beliefnet and this site has perverted that directive by turning this into an inflammatory mob like action that is more centered on Americanism than on the true teachings of Jesus. SHAME!!

Pharisees did the same thing. I don’t think the ‘judgement’ is going to fall on the ACLU, seems like the Bible says Judgement begins in the House of God. People and corporations that take the gospel and pervert it for political reasons and ‘readership’ are more likely to find the judgement falling on them!



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Paula

posted April 26, 2011 at 8:50 pm


A response to g.

I cannot believe after all my 76 years, this ACLU has been against
God, a Cross, or anything that represents God in any way or form.
This goes to show, why our country is in such a mess. We are losing our freedoms of worshiping God, losing freedoms of speech, freedoms of everything that is good and decent.

To all you who are involved with the ACLU, I do suggest you leave the U.S. of America and let us live in peace.

God Bless America and all of us Christians.



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