October 14, 2009

Symbol-Minded

Last night, Stephen Colbert covered the recent Supreme Court case concerning a cross in the Mojave desert that many view as violating the establishment clause of the First Amendment (for background, see this piece by the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty). Colbert does an excellent job of pointing out how the cross should be seen as a religious symbol. I made a similar argument--in a much less entertaining way--a couple of years ago in a column entitled "Getting Our Message Crossed."


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1 comment:

  1. The constitutionality of the Mt. Soledad Cross was also questioned. It sits on a federal war memorial near San Diego. Federal Judge Larry Alan Burns ruled the cross can stay put, writing,

    "Unlike the Ten Commandments monuments, which begin with the express directive 'I AM the LORD thy God. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me,' an unadorned cross issues no commands, instructions or teachings, nor does it express acknowledgment of anything. . . . Because of its physical setting, the memorial itself does not even explicitly encourage any particular religious response to the cross. . . . Any exhortation emanating from this passive monument pertains to remembering the veterans who are recognized there."

    Amazingly, there were Christians who applauded Burns' ruling. I wonder if they read the part about the cross issuing no commands, instructions or teachings, that it does not acknowledge anything, and encourages no particular response.

    If Burns' is correct, a cross is just a meaningless pair of sticks.

    Are Christians willing to strip the cross of all religious meaning in exchange for being able to place it on public property?

    I wrote more about it here:
    http://dunningrb.wordpress.com/2008/07/31/what-does-the-cross-signify/

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