Federal court rules cross statue on public land in Md unconsitutional

This is a big win for separation of church and state.

A U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit upheld a ruling that a 40 foot tall Jesus cross has no place on public lands. In a case brought by The American Humanist Association, the court ruled that the giant cross in Maryland is an unconstitutional government endorsement of a single religion. “Nothing in the First Amendment empowers the judiciary to conclude that the freestanding Latin cross has been divested of this predominantly sectarian meaning,” majority judge Wynn wrote in an opinion Thursday.

The towering cross was built in 1925 with money from the American Legion and private families. It wasn’t until 1961 that the land fell under public maintenance, with taxpayers footing the bill for upkeep. The ruling said that this “excessively entangles the government in religion,” and that the issue could be resolved by altering the shape of the cross or moving it.

The 8-6 ruling was close, has strong dissenting opinions and may even end up in the Supreme Court where there is no precedent regarding religious symbols on public lands. Supporters of the ‘peace cross’ claim it’s a secular monument to WWI fallen soldiers and point out that it’s been up for 100 years, and that this precedent will lead to other monuments being torn down. The court and the Humanists disagreed. “This is a big win not only for separation of church and state, but for all non-Christian veterans who are excluded from an enormous Christian cross war memorial,” Monica Miller lawyer for the American Humanist Association said after the win.

I feel sympathy for the Veterans who are memorialized by this monument, but I feel way more sympathy for the Jewish, Muslim and nonreligious veterans who are excluded from it yet whose taxes paid for its upkeep. As far as historical value, I’m personally not impressed with it aesthetically; a giant concrete cross lacking elegance or creativity. It’s also hardly historic at just 100 years old. Move it or lose it.

By Being Liberal contributor: Sarah Ficca

To learn more, read "Federal court upholds ruling that cross-shaped monument on public land in Md. is unconstitutional" written by Ann E. Marimow for Washington Post on March 2, 2018.