01 August 2008

'Christian' Does Not Equal 'Patriot'

We lost another. First the Texas Supreme Court rules that it's perfectly legal for believers to physically abuse and otherwise manhandle themselves and others as an expression of their religious beliefs. Now, a federal judge in La Jolla has ruled to keep a 43 foot tall concrete cross adorning a hilltop city park as a war memorial. Here's the reason he gives:

Defenders of the cross argued that although religious services had been held at the site, the cross had evolved to serve a more secular function as a memorial to the nation’s war veterans, with some 2,400 plaques in tribute to them, arranged in six concentric rings at the base.

“The memorial is not designed for worship services, and there is no evidence the cross, which is surrounded by a tall fence and not approachable by visitors, is — or is intended to be — the object of religious devotion,” Judge Burns wrote, adding, “The primary effect of the Mount Soledad memorial is patriotic and nationalistic.”

First off, if it's not designed for religious services and serves a secular purpose (which is ridiculous), then how about not ever holding religious services there (since, clearly, sometimes they do)? Just a suggestion. I guess it's not a religous symbol with a religious purpose all other days, but on the days they hold religous services, it is.

Here's the real problem though: How can anyone be expected to believe that a giant flippin' cross--the most recognized symbol of Christianity worldwide--is merely 'patriotic and nationalistic,' let alone 'secular?' I suppose he thinks that just because all veterans, of all faiths, must use this site as a memorial site, that somehow secularizes this symbol.

Let me explain why the exact opposite is the case. Forcing everyone to accept your religious symbol does not make it all-encompassing and inclusive, in other words, secular. It retains its religious significance while assuming that others faiths and those without faith will just have to suck it up and deal with it, which is what they've been doing. It keeps its religious meaning and alienates those not of that faith or without faith. Here's a hint towards proof of that: this case against the cross has been going on for 20 years. So, if the cross has somehow transformed itself into this inclusive, secular memorial symbol, why have people been fighting so long to get rid of it and make the memorial more inclusive? Hint??

The judge, Larry Alan Burns of Federal District Court in San Diego, said in his ruling that the group that had sued to have the cross taken down, which consisted of an atheist and Jewish war veterans, had failed to prove that the cross’s primary purpose was religious.

The symbol of the cross's primary function is as a specific religious symbol. It's religious purpose is to continue to advertise the false claim that all persons in our military are Christians. How's that for 'religious purpose?'

What Judge Burns says about patriotism and nationalism is also quite revealing. Obviously, this is a person who cannot separate Christianity from patriotism, which is the most insulting thing to anyone without faith or of another faith--especially veterans. So because he believes there are 'no atheists in foxholes'--or any other faith for that matter--the cross can stay and continue alienating all veterans not of the Christian faith (there's your 'religious purpose' again--it's just not a positive strain of it, which is why, I suppose, it is being ignored here). I can think of few things less patriotic, less of what this country is supposed to be about.

Way to go, Burns. I got your nationalism right here, pal.

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