By Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service
WASHINGTON (RNS) The war memorial cross at the center of a recent Supreme Court ruling has been stolen, a spokeswoman for the Mojave National Preserve said Tuesday (May 11).
A wooden box had covered the controversial cross, which has been the subject of court cases for almost a decade. A preserve staffer noticed the box was missing on Saturday; by the time a maintenance crew showed up Monday to replace it, the cross also had disappeared, spokeswoman Linda Slater said.
On April 28, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the cross to stay up and directed a district court to further consider a congressionally approved transfer of the cross to private land.
"This is an outrage, akin to desecrating people's graves," said Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of Liberty Institute, which represents the caretakers of the World War I memorial and several veterans groups.
"It's a disgraceful attack on the selfless sacrifice of our veterans. We will not rest until this memorial is reinstalled."
The Veterans of Foreign Affairs has offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the incident and the preserve has set up a public hotline.
"The cover has been removed, probably half a dozen times," Slater said in an interview. "Never the cross. It was a complete shock."