Thursday, April 29, 2010

Desert Cross

By Capt. Fogg

"The Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion's role in society"

said Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. The Cross may be an affirmation of Christian beliefs but it's also used to "honor and respect heroism." The cross he refers to of course is the one erected 75 years ago in the Mojave Desert to "honor" the dead of the First World War, including those without Christian beliefs; those whose own beliefs were inimitable to and lives diminished by those with Christian beliefs. Yes, Tony, there are and were atheists in foxholes: Jews, Muslims, animists, Unitarians and others -- and no Tony, that cross doesn't salute them be they heroes or clerk-typists: it salutes you and your religion at their expense and mine. It doesn't acknowledge that there are religious people in America, it tells you they're the ones who count most.

"Here, one Latin cross in the desert evokes far more than religion. It evokes thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles, battles whose tragedies are compounded if the fallen are forgotten"

continued Kennedy hoping apparently that in the passionate flaunting of murky emotional tropes we will forget that the most moving of war memorials contains nothing but names: hoping apparently that you've never been to one of those cemeteries in Europe and seen the graves marked by the Star of David and memorializing bones than didn't fight for or die to uphold Christianity or an allegedly Christian nation. The Desert Cross isn't designed to help us remember anyone but to remember Jesus of the Gospels. Waving a cross in their dead faces isn't designed to be a memento of them, but a proud rebuke toward others and another bit of puffed-up braggadocio in the same fashion as our traditional bully-boy patriotism. We're number one -- and that's because we're Christian.

What Judge Tony is saying here is that they don't matter, they don't deserve to matter; don't deserve the dignity of being buried without alien iconography. What America is hearing is that we can't spare a dime for Public TV but putting up and maintaining Christian symbols on public property is public duty because the United States of America would really be the Christian States of America God wants it to be if we hadn't allowed those people in.

"The cross is not a universal symbol of sacrifice. It is the symbol of one particular sacrifice, and that sacrifice carries deeply significant meaning for those who adhere to the Christian faith"

states Justice Steven's dissenting, and historically correct opinion, an opinion soon to retire from the bench. The symbol does not represent the United States, it does not represent all of us or describe what we're about. It does not remind us of the unnecessary and pointless slaughter of the Great War conducted by the Christian kings of Christian nations asserting Christian values. It does not remind us that we have a secular government and we designed it and maintain it to protect our individual beliefs and our right to practice our creeds and sects and religions without government interference and coercion, be it subtle or overt.

Once again we have been made aware of how precarious is our freedom of conscience, our freedom from interference in our private beliefs and our right to be included as Americans in a state that is under relentless religious pressure to be exclusive. We have a Court willing, it seems, to reevaluate and revisit many things we thought were decided and that would be a great many things indeed if next year's Court leaned more heavily toward giving our government a more religious stance when it comes to matters of morality. We can expect some serious fervor surrounding the next appointment. If you value religious freedom and indeed if you value religion itself, maybe now's the time to pray.

(Cross posted from Human Voices)

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