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Yes, Jay, there will be a major battle about the Mojave National Preserve cross next term in the Supreme Court. In fact, it is really two battles in one. The first is whether the plaintiff in this case is even able to get his complaint heard. It has already become more difficult to obtain “standing” for people suing against infractions of their religious liberty–including not having to pay for other peoples’ religious activities–thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hein case a few years ago. Now, you want to make it even more difficult.
I think one reason the “Right” is so interested in not allowing people into the courtroom to plead their case is that when courts look at the merits, litigants so often win. They win because it becomes apparent from the evidence that the symbol in question is not some mere annoyance. It is a blunt and apparent declaration of support by a government for the icon of a specific faith, almost invariably American’s statistically predominant religion, Christianity.
My son recently took me on a hike in San Francisco in order to show me
the Mount Davidson cross which has been the subject of numerous lawsuits.
One walks from a pristine forest into a clearing where there is an
enormous one hundred foot cross. Since its sale to a private Armenian-American group, it is now defined as a memorial to the 1915 Armenian Massacre. Not one in a hundred people who sees it, of course, remembers what it represents historically, They know it is a symbol of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
It is jarring; it is inappropriate; it
is offensive even to me–who finds the empty cross a significant and positive
symbol. Its current owners may actually believe it serves to honor the dead. My theological view is that God is not “honored” by having the
natural world disrupted by a monument like this one–or the one in the