Justice Antonin Scalia revealed today an extraordinary bias that fundamentally threatens our secular government. Scalia seemed truly baffled that a Christian cross represents Christianity! He was puzzled that a cross was not broadly representative of Islam, Judaism or no religion at all. The Catholic justice went on to proclaim that a cross self-evidently represented all war dead, not just fallen Christians.
Really? Would a Jew opt to carve a cross on his grave? Would a Muslim? The obvious answer to that question proves absolutely and conclusively that Scalia is fundamentally wrong. How horribly offensive to every non-Christian to be told that the cross is a universal symbol representative of all religions. Our Founding Fathers are spinning furiously in their graves right now. Scalia’s view is precisely what our forefathers worked so terribly hard to avoid.
Scalia is brazenly choosing one religion over all others in direct violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
In addition to ignoring our Bill of Rights, Scalia has abandoned any pretense of logic to support his faith. To demonstrate how terribly twisted Scalia’s thoughts are, he asked the ridiculous question, “What would you have them erect? Some conglomerate of a cross, a Star of David, and you know, a Muslim half moon and star?”
Notice that Scalia did not offer the obvious and imminently more reasonable alternative of erecting the Crescent of Islam in place of the cross. He only suggested the absurd notion of a chimera. He is so utterly blinded by his faith that he could not imagine that anything other than a cross could serve to honor our soldiers. Would Scalia himself allow a Star of David on his grave? If a Christian would not select a Star of David then why on earth would a Jew choose a cross? Yet that is exactly what Scalia proposes. The notion that the cross represents everybody is extraordinarily bizarre, defying even the most basic elements of decency.
Nothing in recent history has demonstrated more clearly than this case the crumbling wall separating church and state. We may be about to pull out the keystone supporting the structure. The wall has been eroding for some time but collapse is now near.
Let’s see what is at stake in this particular case, and then examine how a ruling here can have much broader impact. A seven-foot cross was erected on government-owned land in the Mojave Desert to honor fallen veterans. A former National Park Service employee sued to have the cross removed as an offensive symbol to all non-Christian soldiers and their surviving families.
In response, the Congress entered the picture, offering its own violation of the Establishment Clause by using slight-of-hand. Congress sold a little plot of land on which the cross rests to a veterans group, thereby claiming that the cross no longer rested on federal property. But the transparent ploy of gutting the Constitution by creating an island of private property surrounding by a National Park did not fool the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which ruled the cross had to come down. Our largely Catholic Supreme Court then decided to hear the case. Which brings us to Scalia.
Two of the three branches of our government have colluded to make an end run around our Constitution. Perhaps the Executive Branch will come to the rescue. Nope. The Obama Administration is arguing on behalf of those who wish to retain the cross.
All three branches of the United States government have now taken actions that actively seek to undermine one of our most precious founding principles that the government should not establish religion. Forcing a dead soldier’s family to accept the symbol of one religion over another is establishing religion by any definition. No matter the outcome of this trial, all three branches of our government have clearly chosen Christianity to the exclusion of all other faiths.
I have warned of this slippery slope for many years when arguing against the use of tax-payer dollars to erect Christmas decorations on city and state property. The same false arguments given to support the cross in the Mojave Desert have been used to justify spending my taxes for religious holiday displays: these Christian symbols really are not Christian at all, but representative of all faiths. The argument does not work for Santa Clause, reindeer, the crèche, wreaths, the crown of thorns or a haloed Jesus any more than the argument works for the cross on National Park property. These are Christian symbols. For those who argue otherwise, imagine a world in which every holiday the streets were lined exclusively with Stars of David and Islamic Crescents based on the argument that these really are not religious symbols at all, or if they are, they are broadly representative of all religions. We would of course put up a token cross every now and then to prove our open mindedness. Imagine a world in which every war memorial only displayed the Star of David. If such a world is troublesome to contemplate, then imagine how non-Christians must feel in the onslaught of Christian symbols in public spaces. Imagine the sense of alienation when the Judicial, Legislative and Executive Branches of our government conspire to impose Christianity over all other faiths and no faith at all.
Erecting a cross on public land is wrong. It violates our most basic founding principles. It is outrageous. It is un-American.
Yet we may have gone too far to recover even from this most egregious of “establishment” cases. Liberal Justice Ruth Ginsberg conceded that no matter the outcome of the arguments before the court, Congress can simply keep passing laws to transfer land to the veterans group until the title transfer passes judicial muster. The conspiracy is complete.
Christianity has triumphed, but the victory is Pyrrhic. Our country is great because we learned the harsh lessons from the tyranny our ancestors rejected. We are now repeating the mistakes of history, creating a world similar to the one our forefathers fled. We are substantially weaker for our indulgence in faith over reason. We are marching slowly toward a theocracy, the kind we are fighting in the Middle East. We are becoming our enemy. If that seems hyperbolic it does so only because religion has already penetrated so deeply into our politics that we are now blind to the influence of faith in every form of government. I am thankful that Thomas Jefferson is not alive to see this sad day.
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