Camp Pendleton Cross Privileges Christianity; Marginalizes non-Christians

A monument to honor all Marines

I posted last week about religious memorials on veteran’s day.  The Camp Pendleton cross (technically located in the Camp Horno area) was one of two focus items in an article that referred to a long list of Christian monuments defended using military/police service.  MAAF spends the vast majority of its time fostering community and providing outreach to the military.  In a case where federal officials allow to stand a prominent Christian cross as a representation of military service, atheists, humanists, and all non-Christians who have fought and died for our country are relegated to second-class citizenship.

On Nov 18th, Camp Pendleton officials recognized objections saying, ”The memorial cross activity … was conducted by private individuals acting solely in their personal capacities … The leadership is aware of the memorial cross emplacement and the activity is currently being reviewed by legal staff.”

MAAF has reached out to Camp Pendleton leadership with the following comments regarding resolution of this issue:

  • The cross should be removed or covered until its legality can be determined.
  • We do not see a legal and unbiased way of keeping this cross on federal land.
  • Replacing the cross with an Eagle-Globe-and-Anchor, Flag, or Plaque would provide for a proper Marine Corps memorial and eliminate the sectarian bias.  (Adding a flag and keeping the cross or adding other religious symbols would further entangle government and religion.)
  • Investigate wrong-doing in command-directed pilgrimages and sectarian prayers at the shrine.

Jay Sekulow of the Christian ACLJ claims the cross is nothing more than a secular historical marker

This issue has launched quite a firestorm, so I do want to add some clarifications and respond to some of the arguments I’ve heard.

  • Some have said this is no big deal.  They generally say so in all caps and follow up with some sort of threat indicating that it is, in fact, a big deal.
  • Some have argued that the “Marine Corps” should keep it’s monument. They generally make this argument right before or after insisting that these individuals were acting is private citizens so it should not be construed as any government endorsement.
  • If this was put up by private citizens, why did they opt not to use their private land?  Why are private officials erecting permanent structures on federal land?
  • Some point out that the cross was put up in 2003 originally.  The implication is that being wrong for eight years is better than being wrong for a week.
  • Many (probably most commenters) ask why atheists are so “offended” or that most Marines like the monument.  This has nothing to do with people’s feelings or a popularity contest about the monument.  MAAF represents thousands of military personnel, including Marines at Camp Pendleton, and our rights matter.  The government must not show bias towards any religious belief.
  • Some point out that whole units have been marched up to the cross by their commanders.  Two videos show a long hike to install the cross and one unit commander inviting his Sergeant Major to give a Christian prayer to a mandatory formation under this cross.  Marine commanders have forced their troops into a pilgrimage to a Christian cross?!?  This deserves a separate investigation by itself.
  • Jay Sekulow at the Christian ACLJ says the cross isn’t Christian.  A billion Christians worship the cross as a symbol of their most deeply-held beliefs, so I’ll let them object to the ACLJ.  Dave Niose in Psychology Today questions the casting of the cross as a secular icon.  Attorney Randall Hamud San Diego more accurately lays out the legal challenges to the federal installation of a religious symbol.   If this was solely about honoring fallen brothers, why confuse the message with an obvious and unmistakable religious symbol?
  • The example of cemetery crosses is also often brought up.  These cases are entirely different as they represent the wishes of the individual buried in that plot.  MAAF absolutely supports religious emblems on federal cemetery grave markers.
  • Other religious monuments such as the Chaplain Memorial at Arlington are proper monuments to the contributions to the US by explicitly religious personnel.  They are properly labelled as religious, approved by the command, and placed in such a manner as to avoid the appearance of bias.  This also applies to various places of worship that are occasionally customized for religious purposes, such as Mosques, Catholic Chapels, or Wiccan circles to augment the existing general-use chapels.
  • Other memorials are biased toward Christianity and ought properly to be removed to private property.  The Camp Pendleton cross is just one of many.  The Mt Soledad Cross, the Mojave Desert Cross, the Montana Jesus statue, and the Utah state trooper crosses are all examples.  The Argonne Cross at Arlington, a 1921 monument erected “In memory of our men in France” also excludes all non-Christians.  This cross now memorializes a time when our military had nearly no recognition for anyone not Christian and was segregated by both race and gender.  We’ve come a long way forward since then.
  • There are also examples of non-military religious monuments on federal land, such as the location of the first baptism in California, which rests on what is now Camp Pendleton.  This sad memorial of a Catholic Priest conscripting two young Native American girls into his faith helps us to remember the means European settlers used to take control of the New World.  This is a good example of an authorized historical landmark with religious significance, properly labeled and approved.
  • I leave it to Christians, military leaders, and police authorities to respond appropriately to the long list of insults and threats directed toward MAAF and MAAF members.

MAAF, which represents Marines, Marines at Camp Pendleton, and combat veterans who have lost comrades, recognizes and respects the service of all Marines, especially those who have paid the ultimate price, including those who posted and are referenced by this cross. It is because of this respect that we stand up to oppose the placement of a Christian symbol that co-opts patriotism and valor to promote personal religious perspectives. In order to ensure equal rights for all service members, including atheists and humanists, we must oppose the “Christian military” message that this cross represents. Those individuals who took it upon themselves to post this cross have imposed their beliefs on others. Those who ignored this violation, or worse, forced their units into mandatory prayer at this cross, should bear responsibility for the hurt feelings and offense that Christian Marines now feel as this cross is challenged. This would not have happened had a Flag, plaque, or non-sectarian statue been placed. This would not have happened had those Marines chosen to place their memorial on private land rather than federal land.  MAAF hopes that those Marines who placed this cross can prevent this bad will by stepping forward to propose a non-sectarian memorial to honor all Marines.

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  • Erik

    This cross was put up by Marines who did so as a tribute to their fallen comrades, who shared their Christian belief system. In no way did or do these Marines and their families wish to impose their beliefs on others. However, this cross is extremely meaningful to many Marines who served with the fallen comrades who first erected the cross and their families. Taking it down to be replaced with an EGA would be hurtful to families of these fallen Marines. I would submit that their sacrifice is great enough already and warrants the tolerance of the cross on the part of people of other faiths. Tolerance is a two way street, and the mere presence of the cross as a memorial to fallen Marines of the Christian faith does not equate to the Marine Corps or U.S. military endorsing Christianity as a belief system.

    All military bases provide places or worship for the servicemen and women stationed there. These include Protestant, Catholic, Muslim and Jewish houses of worship. Does the mere presence of a church on a military base violate the Constitution? If so then every U.S. military installation violates the principal of church and state. There is a difference between allowing everyone to practice their beliefs freely and not allowing people to practice their beliefs in public.

    Further the USMC and military provide chaplains, who themselves are affiliated with their religious belief system, but provide spiritual counsel to servicemen of all beliefs including atheists if they so desire. They do not try to convert servicemen to their belief system, but merely provide moral and spiritual support. A chaplain leading a non-denominational prayer or moment of silence at a unit function is not a violation of a person’s right to self-determine their personal belief system. It is an activity designed to aid service member’s in the burdens they bear as a result of their occupation. If a Sergeant Major led a Christian prayer at a mandatory unit formation, that was an error in judgement. That is contrary to current Marine Corps and U.S. DoD policy. To resolve that situation we do not need new rules or to remove the memorial cross, but rather to enforce the current policy – something I can assure you the Marines are good at. Assuming this incident was brought to the attention of the command, there is a good chance the Sergeant Major was verbally reprimanded and will not make this mistake again.

    Contrary to the perception of some, the U.S. military is one of the most equitable egalitarian organizations on Earth. It is one of the few places where on the whole individuals do not self-segregate. Walk into a cafeteria anywhere (college campuses, your place of work, etc…) and one can generally see people congregating with like individuals, whether that be on the basis of race, religion, or some other criteria. A Marine Corps cafeteria is one of the few places where one sees individuals of different races and religions voluntary eating at the same table. These individuals are secure enough in themselves to respect the differences of others and allow them to openly show who they are without feeling this infringes on their own abilities to follow their beliefs. Rank and promotion are based solely on merit, not on relationships, ethnic origin or religious preference.

    Further, Marine units have been making treks up this hill to the area where the memorial cross stands for many years, both before and after its erection for a number of reasons. Primarily this is done as a physical training exercise. Additionally, commanders like to use a unit trek to the top of this hill as a bonding and moral building exercise. It is an arduous hike/run that tests the unit both mentally and physically. It has nothing to do with the endorsement of Christianity. The cross represents the memory of the servicemen who have died in service of their country. Marines of all faiths (and atheists) recognize the cross as a reminder of this sacrifice. They respect the fact that the Marines that erected the cross happen to be Christian and as such it is an appropriate memorial to them.

    The fact this cross was erected by some of the very Marines who later gave the ultimate sacrifice makes its replacement by a different monument unsatisfying to the families and friends of these Marines. I would ask that you be tolerant of their wishes, just as they are of your right to freely practice your belief system.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1293420073 Monty Gaither

      “In no way did or do these Marines and their families wish to impose their beliefs on others.”

      By putting up a cross on public property (the base) they are imposing their christian belief. If they want a religious monument as a tribute to their comrades, then they should do so on private property.

      • Gtb3

        Having spent six+ years of my life on USMC bases (as an NIS agent) I would like you to tell them that face to face. They not only die well, they fight very well. Monty, you may or may not have a Constitutional basis for your prissy belief or lack of belief, but you do need to recognize that discretion is called for in the face of overwhelming disagreement. They don’t want to convert you or even (God forbid) make you a Marine. They just want to be left alone, to prepare to fight and if need be die for their country. You are well advised to dig a deep hole and crawl into it with your misunderstanding of the First Amendment. You are not compelled to believe but who made you the arbiter of excellence when it come to the beliefs of others.

        • Anonymous

          Gtb3, You DO realize that this organization is, almost entirely, composed of military servicemembers and veterans, right? As to your statement that we have a “misunderstanding of the First Amendment”, I would suggest that you read Jefferson, Madison, and some of the relevant Supreme Court rulings. These men, undoubtedly, have crosses on their graves, as they most likely wished. The fact that you make such a stirring call for compassion for Marines who have died, regardless of their religion or lack thereof, and manage to marginalize those who didn’t HAPPEN to be Christian in the same paragraph, is revolting.

          • Fdagators

            James, I would suggest you do not put so much influence in a few letters that are not law nor U.S. Doctrine. And just like with Um Ah, please tell me about these Supreme court ruling that you are referring to. I would so much like to learn this from you.

          • Richard

            Supreme Court Decision:
            Lemon Vs. Kurzman (1971)

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002752274934 Um Ah

          They can do it to my face. Have them march on down here, make sure to remove their cover and announce themselves properly, salute (if appropriate) and then come to parade rest.

          I will tell them that they are violating the oath they swore to uphold, then have them take a nice letter back to their commander detailing how they need additional training.

          Just let me know when so I can clear my schedule. I’m not doing anything useful anyway.

          • Fdagators

            Um ah, You are interesting. please i do want to understand, how are these marines violating their oath? And also, I want to understand why is it their commanders job to train them on the constitution.

        • Akivadavid

          “The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries.” -James Madison

        • Richard

          Nothing like a little threat of getting beat up my a marine for not kissing Christianigty’s ass.

          • Marvalneb

            so mature

          • Rambunctious

            I think the real immature persons are those who need to make their beliefs supreme and marginalize others. It is a manifestation of indoctrination overload. Those that associate Christianity with militancy or military personnel being better Christians than others are truly insecure.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002752274934 Um Ah

        Ahh, the “I didn’t wish to break the law” defense!

        Makes sense. You’re forgiven and the religious icon can stay on government-owned land, in violation of the law.

        Hoo Rah.

        • Fdagators

          Um Ah, please tell me what law is being violated

      • Fdagators

        Monty, how in the world does that “Impose” their christian belief on someone? If you do not believe what the cross stands for it doesnt mean anything to you. None is forced to look at the cross

        • Richard

          How in the world did the Swartztika imopse it’s message of hate and discrimination on people?

    • http://www.facebook.com/eyoungstrom Eric Youngstrom

      Is it on Gov property? Well then they don’t get to have it there. Move it to private property.

    • MilitaryAtheist

      This is the best argument on here for keeping the cross, but it still doesn’t address my primary contention with the cross. I have no problem with using a cross as a grave marker for a christian KIA, but this monument doesn’t just represent the christian marines, it represents all of them including those who aren’t christian, so why are we using an exclusively christian symbol? Do you not see how this can be disrespectful?

      • Law

        No. How can it be disrespectful? Actually the cross is a generic symbol for any and all religions, and has come to represent help and sanctuary all over the world. Medevans and other aid groups use a cross, and even people who have never seen an Englishman respond to that. And when disaster victims or starving people in Africa crowd around such vehicles, they don’t ask if the vehicle is Christian, Moslem, or whatever: they know whoever they are, they’re there to help – without asking or telling anything about any religion.

        The point is whether or not you have a “problem using a cross as a grave marker for a christian KIA,” is not relevant: the point is you have no right to have any opinion about whatever some other person chooses to use. CHOICE is the essence of freedom. That’s what our ancestors came here for – so they could have a choice. You exercise your choices; everybody else exercises their choices; the only thing we have to be concerned with is physical harm to others. A person who chooses to landmine the area around a cemetery is not allowed that choice; a person who owns a property is not allowed to stand on it and shoot; the common factor is that we are not allowed choices that physically injure others.

        Removing that monument would injure those who are emotionally tied to it; it is their lightning rod for the grief and anger associated with their losses. I don’t understand how you can so casually dismiss the damage you’re trying to do.

        • Deb_Z

          The first thing I would like to address is that the term is “Muslims,” not “Moslems.” “Moslems” is a horribly offensive term to many Muslims which you can read more about here: http://hnn.us/articles/524.html.

          With regards to people seeing the cross as a symbol of help and sanctuary unassociated with religion, you’re hugely overgeneralizing. I can only assume you’re referring to the red cross which looks extremely different from the Christian cross. Additionally, in some countries a red crescent is used specifically becuase the red cross, while it looks different from the traditional Christian cross is still symbolic of Christianity. The International Committee of the Red Cross explains this on their website: http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/misc/emblem-history.htm.

          Thirdly, to address your point about people crowding around (Red Cross) trucks regardless of what symbols they have on them, that’s common sense. If you were poor, starving, and tired, and someone came up to you offerig you free food, would you reject them soley based on their religion? Personally, I wouldn’t. I would respect their freedom to represent themselves by whatever symbol or religion they choose and be thankfull for their help so long as they did not try to also represent me by that same symbol without my permissio and that is what I see as the issue here. It is fine for people to self-identify as Christian or with the cross or whatever else they choose but by having this cross up here as a memorial to fallen soldiers they are saying that it applies to all soldiers regardless of how they identify themselves.

          Lastly, to take down this cross would not cause the emotional pain you describe had it never been put up. But even so, no one is saying that no one is allowed to put up memorials to fallen soldiers in whatever form they like, the question is about a blatently religious symbol being used to memorialize those soldiers on public land. As many other people have stated here, it would be perfectly fine for the exact same monument to be erected on private land because people can do what they want on their own land but having it on government land symbolizes a government endorsement of not only Christianity but of the generalization that all soldiers are Christian which is simply not true. If, theoretically, all dead soldiers were Christian or even if it were clear that this was a monument to dead Christian soldiers it would be much more acceptable (although the latter still has issues with the government favoring one religion over all other belief systems). But one of the biggest issues (in my opinion) is that having this cross as a monument to dead soldiers implies that the only soldiers who gave their lives that are worth remembering and honoring are the Christian ones.

    • Jmjpfu

      There has been in fact in our military particularly more so since 2000 Election VIGOROUS PROSELYTIZING by ‘evangelical’ and ‘fundamentalist’ “Christian” CHAPLAINS reported !

  • Krolarn

    ← Tis the Season to Demand Your Rights

    I demand that you stop this nonsense because it’s their right to put up the cross if they want. If someone gets their little feelings hurt, or they feel like second class citizens, they need to grow a pair. Or better yet, don’t look at the thing. Good grief. This country is going to pot and it’s because of stupid stuff like this. If you guys want to put up some non-christian based thing for someone else, fine. But stop with this mess. You make atheists sound like a bunch of whiners. I’m not coming back to read the replies so have fun.

    • Anonymous

      Oh. Well since you demand it…

      • Anonymous

        Oh, hey, a no-true-scotsman argument. How refreshing. So happy to see that I share the Corps with such a sublime thinker as you, jdkchem.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002752274934 Um Ah

        Do you even remember your oath? There was something about “defending the constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic” in there, if I recall.

        Please tell me you didn’t just mouth the words, but actually meant it.

        • Surgmarine

          The ACLU is a true domestic enemy of the USA, and their actions, more often than not, are a complete contradiction of their very title

      • Digital Aheist

        I served as a U.S. Army Combat Engineer for 9 years. So what? The cross was erected illegally therefore it has to come down. If this is a memorial then why no erect it on public land? Or still illegal, but more appropriately, why weren’t other relgious symbols also erected. Not every person who has died in battle or training or accident in any branch was a christian. Many didn’t believe in “god”, or at least in the “god” some people believe in.

        Many have served, are serving, and will serve who do not believe in bronze age fairytales from out of the desert.

        Now, stick to sitting in your fighting position and shooting bullets while the Engineers are out there doing the landmine warfare thing and building bridges, mudfoot.

        • Anonymous

          Here’s to you, Digital Atheist and thank you for your valuable service to America. You make a good point. So many non-Christian Americans have sacrificed their lives for our beloved country to be marginalized by a single religion’s symbol. If we can’t display all our religious symbols we should display none.

          My symbol’s in my heart, how about yours? No need to display it like some Neon sign over a hoe house.

        • http://skepticva.org/ Albert Rogers

          Good points. Have you noticed that the Christians clearly do not all worship the same God? Clearly, the God of Francis of Assisi was not the God of Tomas de Torquemada, nor even that of wealth’s friends like Billy Graham and the rest of the Religious (Right?).

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1293420073 Monty Gaither

      It is not their right to put up a religious icon (graven image) on government property. Put it on private property if you must have it. The country is going to pot thanks to conservatives in power. And it is conservatives that want to force xtianity onto everyone, one way by putting up 10 commandments and crosses on government property. Other religious people have wanted to put up their icons on government property and many of these same conservatives yell and scream and rave against them doing so.

      • Fdagators

        Monty, why isnt it their right to do so? They have freedom of religion as much as you have freedom from religion

    • Richard

      It is NOT their right. You must study the supreme court decisions relative to the separation of church and state and how they affect the First Amendment. Government, including the armed forces, may not, in the course of their duties, recommend, elevate, prfer or proselytize one relighion over another or religion over non-religion. And despite your weak religious response, it’s the LAW.

      • Debaug1

        You are against proselytizing, yet this article say that is the very thing that this organization does. I quote “MAAF spends the vast majority of its time fostering community and providing outreach to the military.” So you tell me, you are to be permitted to proselytize atheism, but everyone else is to shut up? Wrong!!!!

        • Rambunctious

          I’m afraid you have once again misunderstood the purpose of the MAAF mission statement.

          MAAF outreach is designed to help and encourage those who are and have been victims of coercive Dominionist Christian proselytyizing in the armed forces. Fostering community simply allows those who have been ill-used by evangelicals to function within a discriminatory body and defend themselves against the bigotry of Dominion Christianity.

        • Anonymous

          We are fostering community for our members and providing outreach to the military to help our people. Nothing about this is converting others or “preaching” to theists. We do oppose proselytism in the military, Christian, Jewish, atheist, or otherwise. You might be thinking of the Officers’ Christian Fellowship. Their purpose and vision is “equipping and encouraging (Christian officers) to minister effectively in the military society…. integrating faith and profession.” This cannot be confused – they are dedicated to having Christians officers proselytize to others in the military. But that’s OCF. They have an approved cadet club at West Point despite that proselytizing mission, but the humanist club is not yet recognized.

  • Gtb3

    Does the cross on a USMC base make you feel outside the pale? Too bad. You are. Keep your grubby fingers off of my rights and beliefs and I’ll ignore yours. That’s the civilized way. Force your beliefs on others and you will face a rebuttal that will shock your tender ears. This was a Godly country founded by Godly men, though of no particularly uniformity of religious belief. But belief they had, just read their words. You find my beliefs offensive? Sorry; I find yours ludicrous. Just take a walk outside at night and view the enormity of the universe and tell yourself it all happened by accident.

    • Anonymous

      Wow, you really HAVEN’T studied history much, have you? Do you know what a Deist is? Do you know just how close they are to being atheists? Do you follow the Heritage Foundation and such? Read Jefferson, Franklin, et al. much? Also, you clearly have a poor understanding of how science or nature work, or what the definition for ‘accident’ is…

    • Grunty

      Okay, I just went outside and looked at the night sky and the enormity of the Universe. Turns out it WAS and accident, after all.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002752274934 Um Ah

        I heard the earth revolves around the sun, too, unlike what some bronze-age book says.

    • Richard

      Wrong, religion breath. America was founded as a secular, pluralistic nation in which all religions and non-beliefs may flourish, but none, irrespective of its majority, dominate.

      A total absence of God, Jesus, Angels, Devils, Demons, Saints and other heavenly creatures in our Constitution tells us that religion was not what America was founded upon.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, what’s that? I couldn’t hear you over all the screaming and profanity :P

  • ZenDruid

    The cross is an impromptu ‘tree of death’ to which the Roman centurions nailed a sissy-boy. I can think of any number of more appropriate memorials.

  • Ben

    I have an idea, lets put a Star of David, or a Crescent Moon up there instead. Who feels marginalized now? If you wouldn’t want another religion’s symbol up there don’t come crying saying that atheists are infringing on your precious rights when its not a right. And before you say I should grow a pair, believe me after 7 deployments my balls have testicles of their own. Semper Fi.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002752274934 Um Ah

    Oh dear, did you get a peanut stuck under your caps lock key?

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  • Anonymous

    Christians- everything in the Universe is a lovely shade of black or white, until we get to the 1st Amendment, and then suddenly it’s all subtly, historicity and implied meanings.

    Hilarious.

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  • Akivadavid

    I deal with issues similar to this on a daily basis in my role as Veterans Coordinator for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. V.A. facilities across the Country almost routinely place religious symbols – typically crosses – in public areas in direct violation of Department of Veterans Affairs policies. When confronted, most administrators work diligently to remove such religious symbols (although they may of course be utilized during religious services in the chapel, though they must be taken down afterward to keep the chapel facilities religion neutral when services are not being conducted); however, I have noticed that administrators of V.A. facilities that are connected to and receive support from private, religious teaching hospitals (like the one in Loma Linda, California) have become more intransigent lately, and in at least one case the administration of the V.A. Medical Center has dealt with the onslaught of complaints by adopting a policy of no longer accepting complaints. I too hear all too often from administrative personnel that they can’t understand why this is such a big issue; however, like the author, it is my assertion that clearly it is a big issue because it seems the Fundamentalist Christians will go to any lengths to foist their religious symbols on everyone, and afterward will fight like hell to keep them there – their conduct regarding the symbols alone demonstrates clearly that it is a big issue. I would like to make one last point – frequently Christians blame atheists and freethinkers (whom they like to call either “godless” or “secular humanists”) for causing all the hoopla regarding religious symbols and monuments; however, as a religious Jew I can tell you from my own experience that the majority of Orthodox Jews will not enter a room with a cross displayed – to religious Jews it is considered both a pagan symbol and an “idol.” In my own experience I encountered a serious problem when I moved to Iowa several years back and was told I couldn’t access services until I attended an orientation class which was held in the chapel of the Iowa City V.A. Medical Center, which was, in direct violation of V.A. directive, permanently decorated with the Stations of the Cross and a large crucifix. When I refused to enter the chapel and tried to explain why, I was berated and threatened. Unfortunately, this began a long and ugly period of religious predation, harassment, discrimination and ultimately denial of care that was only rectified following an investigation by the national office, which in turn happened only because of the direct involvement of Mikey Weinstein and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. It goes without saying that advocacy organizations like the MRFF and the MAAF are essential to protecting the civil rights of our service men and women and veterans. I urge you all to support the MAAF in any way possible, joining with them in advocating for and protecting the rights of those who sacrifice so much to protect our rights.

    • http://skepticva.org/ Albertrogers

      I Like this.
      I’m reminded of the story of the leper Naaman who was cured by Elisha, and sought forgiveness of Yhwh for his involuntary adoration of the Syrian divinity Rimmon through the act of his master in leaning upon him during his devotions.

  • Surgmarine

    It’s just a cross. I get so damn tired of the pettiness of atheist groups, and the evil ACLU. I’ll be more proud of my Marine Corps than ever before if the Corps will stand behind their own, and let this simple memorial stand. Guess there are atheists in foxholes after all. Fine, just stay the hell out of my Marine fighting hole !

  • Surgmarine

    I suggest that the best way to resolve this conflict is to simply place a plaque on the cross, that reads “This monument represents the crosshairs of the M16 rifle sight. The standard weapon of the American fighting man” by doing so, it will send the dreaded ACLU back under the rock from which it has crawled out of, and you atheists won’t have a godless leg to stand on in this matter. Legally, it would change the entire dynamics of this issue, wouldn’t it ?

  • Surgmarine

    seems you godless lost souls don’t want to hear other’s free thinking. I didn’t agree with your constitutional rhetoric, so my comments have been deleted. I’m glad we Marines back in my day believed in God and country.

    • Anonymous

      First, let me thank you for your service to America. As a former Air Force officer and rescue pilot in Vietnam my squadron was often tasked with inserting elite service teams such as Green Beret, Seals and my favorite, Marine Recon into Laos and Cambodia. We would then park and wait for radio contact and extract the team. We were not privy to their missions but I suspect the Marines were probably assasination teams.

      It is not a matter of whether you agree with the constituional provisions which outlines government’s role in religious matters. I’m sure there are some that I don’t agree with either, but having taken an oath to uphold the constitution I assume that meant the whole shebang and not just the parts I liked.

      It is quite possible in the armed forces to believe in God and Country and still follow the law. One must be tolerant of the various belief systems and irrespective of the strength of your personal belief, not attempt to elevate or advance it above others or above non-religion.

      I hope you understand why this must be.

    • http://skepticva.org/ AuldLochinvar

      One of the benefits that MacArthur bestowed upon the Japanese was to abolish their God, the Emperor. As a result of this, and discouraging their imperialism, Japan was concentrating on consumer electronics while the USA was, and I presume still is, wasting half its effort on war electronics.
      That’s part of why so many consumer products have Japanese names.

      I happen to believe that godlessness is a beneficial state.

  • Anonymous

    The ultimate Christian understands that his belief is but one of many. He knows his beliefs do not and should not dominate the public square. He understands that Christianity has no more power or position that the least populated relgion in America.

    Christians are taught to evangelize and spread their message. This is often done in a rude fashion by some Christians who wish to dominate. These are known as “Dominion Christians.”

    Real Christians understand that America is a secular nation in which all religions may flourish but none dominate. Displays of religious signs, emblems and artifacts when placed on government property are designed to dominate.

    Aggressive Christian proselytizing has led to violence and has generated the Crusades, Genocides, Inquisitions, Witch Hunts, Pogroms and other deadly actions.

    It is important that religious supremacy, such as the kind we witness when those of one religion attempt to dominate by force of majority or using government to advance their religion, be reported and dealt with based on Constitutional Law.

    • Anonymous

      Error.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eyoungstrom Eric Youngstrom

    Once again christians play the victim card. Look no one is attack your religion or saying you can’t worship or even have a memorial, just do it on private land. All the rest of us that are not christian want is for you stop over stepping your bounds. You don’t get to be treated with reverence or have special privileges over other faiths or nonfaiths.

    • Law

      Private land? Or maybe hide in caves, to avoid the lions in the arena? No, we have the right, whether we’re Christians, Buddhists, Moslems, Jews, atheists, or whatever, to practice our beliefs in the open – wherever we are. Do you go into the public? Do you leave your beliefs at home? This idea of censoring everybody is anti-American. CHOICE is the essence of freedom. If someone was sitting on that hill shooting at non-compliant passers, then we’d have to remove him. But the idea that any person shouldn’t have to see or hear anything he doesn’t like is both puerile and dangerous. You’re asking for special privileges when you demand that you be allowed to deny others the right to practice their beliefs everywhere, as long as they are not physically harming others.

      • Deb_Z

        It’s not that it has to be hidden, just not on public land. You can put as big of a cross or whatever else as you want on your land but that’s because it’s YOUR land. Public land belongs to everyone and so there have to be stricter rules on what goes there to try to offend as few people as possible.

  • Mwitthuhn

    Christians are entitled to ‘rights’ too!
    What gives atheists the ‘right’ to take away the ‘rights’ of Christians?

    i call it ‘double speak’!

    • Anonymous

      This is Camp Pendleton leadership poitning out that unauthorized private individuals don’t have the right to put up a cross on federal land. That’s a sense of entitlement and a Christian nation agenda. Put up your cross on your front lawn – that’s a right.

    • Rambunctious

      Mwitthuhn, Atheists do not take rights from Christians. Constitutional law clearly states what freedom of religion is and what may be considered religious freedom rights within the parameters established by the constitution. When Christians exceed their charter the law is excercised to contain that excess.

      Christians, as are all Americans, are subject to civil law.

  • Debaug1

    You said in your comments, “A billion Christians worship the cross as a symbol of their most deeply-held beliefs”. The cross is not worshipped. Jesus Christ is worshipped, honored and given all glory. No man-made symbol is to be worshipped. The cross is a symbol and just that, it is not worshipped. It is a real shame that you cannot accept Christians and their symbols, but yet are to put up with all of your whining. You are costing taxpayers millions of dollars with all your lawsuits. I thought the adage of today is suppose to be “Live and Let Live”. Yet, the cross really annoys you. The first amendment was instituted so that the gov’t could not MANDATE a religion. Just because a cross, star of david or even the crescent moon of Islam is put on somewhere on gov’t property does not mean they are mandating a religion. Instead they are acknowledging the freedom OF religion. We all have that freedom and you are trying to take that freedom from us. We give you your freedom to be of the athiest religion and you need to do the same. I am sure you could come up with kind of symbol for your religion, you would fight tooth and nail to preserve that symbol where ever you have it. Leave everyone elses symbols alone or you could be in for a big fight when you want what you consider a special privilege or you want the US to recognize your symbol. Get over yourselves and leave everyone else alone. :)

    • Richardb

      Debaug1,

      The government allowing or actively erecting an exclusive religious symbol violates the establishment clause.

      In Lemon Vs. Kurzman (1971) a test to see whether a government act was constitutional or not, called the “Lemon Test” was devised by the US Supreme Court.

      1 . The government’s action must have a secular legislative purpose;

      2. The government’s action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;

      3. The government’s action must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.

      The cross clearly violates number 1. and number 2.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EHKCTIWGD2YHNS7YFQ27SVJVLQ Edward

      “The cross is not worshipped.” I call BS on that. Christians DO worship the cross and have been doing so ever since Christianity got started.

      • Digital Aheist

        Years ago when I was a child and still getting my weekly does of the good book, the preacher we had made a very good point about the cross: why does Christianity choose to use the tool of death to represent itself, when an empty grave would be much more approriate.

  • Michael

    You say, “We’ve come a long way forward.” I say the United States has been in decline ever since President George Washington left office. Removing crosses from federal lands is not the issue you should be seeking. If anything, atheists should be seeking to have their beliefs represented in ways other than the cross. You say “This has nothing to do with people’s feelings or a popularity contest about the monument[s].” That’s a lie. Just because you meet under a cross or religious monument doesn’t necessarily mean you are worshiping as a Christian. It is merely a rally point. While I was in the Marine Corps, if we had to rally at some point and the rally point happened to be a Buddha monument, I as a Catholic would not have been offended. If we had to rally at a pagan shrine, I as a Catholic would not have been offended. So why, then, should Christian monuments be removed from federal lands? They should not be removed!

    You’re words are offensive in every way possible to any Christian believer. The cross is a symbol that has many meanings to many faiths and not just to Christians. The cross has been represented in pagan history prior to Jesus. And the cross continues as a symbol for Christians to this very day. Rather than seeking the removal of crosses, seek to have the symbol representing your faith, or the lack thereof, represented in some way.

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  • Pepezehetner

    Nazism takes the disguise of Atheism.

    Fact: Most atheists hate Jews and Roman-Catholics.
    Fact: Most atheists wear swastikas and believe they are part of the “Aryan” race.
    Fact: Most atheists are racist bastards who think they are better than everyone else.

  • Pepezehetner

    Atheism is a disease, it is the filth of the Earth.

  • Pepezehetner

    I have an idea…. To further offend the Neo-Nazis let’s put up a monument of a Star of David, and a Cross.

  • Pepezehetner

    We must fight the atheists! The atheists are nothing but Nazis, Communists, Marxist.

    ADOLF HITLER WAS AN ATHEIST. HE JUST LOVED PLAYING AROUND WITH THE OCCULT. HE WAS THE ANTICHRIST!!!

  • Pepezehetner

    The MAAF? More like the ANDSAP!
    The American National Socialist Workers Party….

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  • Seamus_Ruah

    Well stated, these idiots keep claiming the cross isn’t a Christian symbol or that they have the right to violate the constitution because their intentions are good and/or they’re in a majority. Seems someone forgot to actually read that document they swore an oath to protect and defend.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000054363300 Jimmy Shake

    thats what is funny atheists have no beliefs, there self denial of any intelligent design and or higher power . Why piss on everyone elses.

  • Thom

    The utter hideous irony of christians placing a cross on a military base is tantamount to spitting in the face of Jesus or worse, replacing The Prince of Peace and Tolerance with a prince of war and violence, essentially putting a false god before Him.

    Ever since the passing of the early Christian Martyrs who understood His Crucifixion to be Jesus’ strongest message to humanity, that salvation meant absolute non-violence, even if it meant “standing down” while their God incarnate was tortured and killed before their eyes, 99.9999% of christians (only the peaceful .00001% can be referred to as True Christians) haven’t had a clue, even though it’s emblazoned right there in the Christian Standard Operating Manual in plain and simple black and white. He told Peter to BACK OFF while He put the soldier’s ear back on and gave him back his sword. He told Christians: “RESIST NOT EVIL” and even IF YOU HAVE A VIOLENT THOUGHT AGAINST ANOTHER YOU WILL BE SUBJECT TO THE ETERNAL JUDGEMENT of God Almighty’s Court Martial. Surely, if Jesus Himself would not sanction human violence against His Own torturers and killers, the flimsy rationalizations christians have used to perpetrate the worst violence ever seen since Jesus walked the face of the earth as man, will not be seen as righteous or honorable in the Eyes of God.

    Unfortunately, your orders from the Supreme Chain of Command were loud and clear and you purposefully disobeyed them as did your fallen christian comrades in violence. No doubt they’ve been eternally imprisoned in God’s Own special version of Gitmo where unending fire is the torture and there’s no mercy and no discharge.

    Perhaps you should take the opportunity to quit and atone your evil and violent ways. Perhaps you should begin by removing the symbols of Jesus’ strongest admonition for Peace & Love (crosses) from places of violence and war to places of grieving and sorrow, where you can spend the rest of your worthless lives begging forgiveness for the infinite pain and suffering you and your kind have caused the world, and the unending embarrassment to Jesus for having spawned you in the first place. Remember, the first reboot of humanity was primarily due to man’s violence against man. THOU SHALT NOT KILL – PERIOD!

    Onward christian soldiers – straight to the bowels of Hell…

  • Anonymous

    We worship God, not the Cross, but no symbol is more emblematic of our faith, to us or of us to non-Christians. When young people give of themselves to serve their country, they deserve the right to be free from an established State Religion. Not only atheists are disturbed by mandatory exercise combined with religious pilgrimages and group prayer. Freedom of religion is like freedom of speech; you may not appreciate it until it’s no longer there–and it disappears slowly, bit by bit.

  • Believer

    You claim to be defending the freedoms you have fought for, but don’t you realize that while doing that in regards to this Cross at Pendlenton, you are diminishing the sacrifices of those that fought to have the freedom to have a memorial erected for them? Shame on you. No one is stopping you from having your beliefs or none there of, so leave people of faith alone, why would you feel so threatened to see a Cross in memory of thos that do believe in God? Do you feel threatened when you see a Mosque? A cemetery? Having been part of the Military for 30 years, it is insulting that atheists are intent on depriving believers during the time they need faith most in the lives.

    • MilitaryAtheist

      And is representing the sacrifices of servicemen of many faiths with exclusively christian symbolism on Federal land, a requirement of your faith? Suppose instead of a cross it was an Islamic symbol such as the Crescent and star, followed by salah. You’d be perfectly okay with that right?

  • Military Faithful

    It is quite perplexing to read some of the comments here. What is next? Cemeteries? Are you going to try to ban the crosses there? After all, it is on Govt. land, right? Where does it stop? Why are you so worried if a cross is erected on a Military base? This cross was to replace the original that was erected in 2003 and it burned in 2007, why all your attacks on these group of faithfuls that only desire to pay honor to their fallen Brothers and Sisters? Are you going to fight to ban the crosses on the highways that are placed where a loved one was hit maybe a drunk driver? Why not fight to make sure drunk drivers go to jail for a long time, get your priorities straight. Try to keep in mind that many that have called themselves atheists “change their minds” in their death bed, I pity you for not believing, there’s so much more joy in life than to think you know it all, you are self made. You are nothing without God, accept it or not, is the truth.

  • http://skepticva.org/ Albert Rogers

    Apart from anything else, the cross, a.k.a. crucifix, is obnoxious in that it symbolises an abominable form of capital punishment. The Protestant distinction, the cross with the body gone, symbolises resurrection in spite of death, but that’s a highly suspect doctrine too.

    Do we (and if we do , should we) permit even secular organizations to advertise their sacred symbols on federal military bases?

    Nazi Germany had a concordat with the Pope of Rome, and it seems that our most dangerous enemies, like the lunatics who flew aircraft at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, also say “In God We Trust”. If our military is genuinely interested in Peace, let them eschew all indications that they espouse any dogmatic religion.

  • SMH at you alll

    being a Marine and a nonbeliever i couldnt disagree more with everything in this article. No one is attacking you forcing any kind of religious bias on you. That is solely your perception of things. Saying that they are forced to pray by a SgtMaj is ludicrous, no one can make you pray. Having a formation under the cross was an event that probably had the message misconstrued by this website or whomever gave you the information. There is a very good chance that the reason the formation was there was to remember those fallen. But of course no one can actually be accountable for their actions or chosen lack there of, so you must create these little self help groups of people who get so butt hurt about things like this that they in fact do the marginalizing. they do the alienating by making others feel like the odd one out and crying afoul over them not being a big enough boy or girl to not participate in prayer, but have respect for those who do pray. grow up and grow a pair. and like i said, i am an atheist too, just not a whiny bitch.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jasontorpy Jason Torpy

      You sound pretty whiny to me. Given that you think I heard about the formation under the cross, it sounds like you didn’t even read the article, since there’s a video of the event that shows the prayer. If you’re so comfortable in your nonbelief, why not stand up to help out those who do have problems rather than trying to beat them down even more?

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  • Law – Michael Thom

    You’re WRONG. Do you think that I even consider their religions when I remember those who have died or been injured or whatever for the rest of us? NO. That cross represents ALL of them, and the love they bore for their country or their families or any of us, and that they put their lives on the line for. Do you believe that those of us who care about such things actually stop and say, “Now, let me remember those Christians who gave their lives?” Are you even aware of the origin of the cross? Are you one of the many who think it is only with the death of Jesus?

    And what makes you think it’s ok for you to deny any of us the free expression of any of our beliefs? What would happen if we are able to SILENCE every person who doesn’t agree with whatever we happen to espouse at the time?

    When a Court rules against any religious display, it is actually making a law and impeding the free exercise of religion. That’s a fact. That’s unConstitutional.

    And if that Camp Pendleton monument gives a second’s peace to anyone who is dealing with loss, then I’m for it. If you want to add a “nondenominational” monument near it, then go ahead and do that. INCLUSION, not EXCLUSION, is the American goal. Did you forget?

    • http://www.facebook.com/jasontorpy Jason Torpy

      Nonsense. A cross represents Christians. Christians using a cross to represent everyone are being condescending and and exclusive by saying their way is good enough for everyone. And this has nothing to do with silencing Christians. Christians have religious symbols almost everywhere, and good for them if it’s private property. Federal land is a different story. That’s owned by the government and it should be neutral toward religion not promoting one religion over all others. Want to have a cross memorial? Great. Use your front yard.

    • rambunctious

      Sorry, Law. The Cross does not represent all that have fought and died for America. Your insistence that it be made a symbol for all is simply a ploy to seek religious dominance.

      The cross is erected in rememberance of Christian troops and to be constiitutional, the Crescent ans star, Star of David, Pagan Pine tree and other religious symbols must be shown concurrently.

    • MilitaryAtheist

      You cannot expect us to take your reply seriously when you say the Christian Cross represents “all of them” and then in the same breathe proclaim that the cross is an expression of your beliefs. You contradict yourself, friend.

      I am a staunch proponent of free expression, but any expression that uses government land and government property to give that message is a state endorsement of religion. End of story. The icing on the cake has to be when you said that they may also put up a non-denominational monument “near it”. The staggering hypocrisy of this statement truly astounds me.

  • jtreese

    I am reading this because I heard the story on FOX this morning about Camp Pendleton’s crosses.

    If you haven’t noticed America is not the America I grew up in 50 years ago. It is different because religion is being beaten down, immorality; drugs, profanity, etc. are all on the rise. When I was in high school the worst thing students did was smoke in the bathroom. Now primary school kids do much worse and use the F word on a daily basis.

    So I am blaming people like you who want to do away with religion for causing the degeneration of our society. You use the constitution to justify your actions while disregarding the fact that our founding fathers were religious and the constitution is based on the Bible.

    Yes I said do away with religion, that is really your agenda. Once you get religion banned from the military, it won’t be long before other religious practices are suppressed. Imagine an America without religion. You can’t convince me that it would not be a deprived society.

    Your threatened lawsuit against the crosses on Camp Pendleton is disgusting and one of the reasons why people like you is despised by Christians like me. Live and let live and don’t try to impose your beliefs on me, I don’t try to impose my beliefs on you. If you lived in a Muslim country you wouldn’t have any religious freedom and that includes being an atheist.

    • threenorns

      i agree that it is shameful and disrespectful to try and have the crosses removed – but your attitude about religion being the reason for society’s downfall is ridiculous.

      i’m not christian but i educated my kids on ALL the religions so they can make an informed decision as to which, if any, they wanted to follow. oldest daughter converted to islam. the only reason she stopped wearing the hijab was bec some lovely christians threw rocks and garbage at her as they passed by in their SUV. second daughter is buddhist – she doesn’t follow buddhism, per se, but her personality and the way she lives IS buddhism incarnate. youngest? she’ll probably be a hindu – she’s fascinated by the mahabharata.

      and i’m FINE with that. i’d be fine if they didn’t want any religion at all.

      but forcing everybody into your goosestep is WRONG and that is what is killing society!

  • Donwendt

    Who really cares what you think !! Majority rule has and will be forever. You do not like what you see ?? Don’t look. You people have no purpose in life and choose to believe in nothing..that is too bad bit your choice. don’t infringe on my choices. You are slowly eroding the moral fiber of our great country and you are few so you are destined to failure. Leave my belief alone !! I don’t ask you to do anything you don’t want..and expect the same in return.

  • trying to find a third way

    Whether or not you are an atheist or belong to a faith community, kindness, tolerance and respect should be afforded all. Perhaps the cross should not have been erected, but it was. The pain and grief of the friends and family is what it represents. Add other symbols, do not remove these. Don’t compound the hurt and pain. You may have the Constitutional Right on your side, but do you have compassion? I am sorry this symbol of faith on Federal land upsets you to the point of removing this place of solace. Reason should be tolerant not just logical. Fight for inclusion of all. Pick a symbol of remembrance of those you knew and add this. Allowing expressions of grief without the threats from others is compassion.

    Fight the real fights, go ahead and fight against forced prayers and other inappropriate military actions. But be reasonable. We have become a country of polarized views. It breeds intolerance, hate and distrust. People of faith, agnostics and atheists need talk to each other and find solutions and not just cling to their stance of right or wrong.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jasontorpy Jason Torpy

      Fight the real fights against forced prayers? Apparently you didn’t read about the forced prayer at this shrine. There are two videos on this article. At least educate yourself before you claim this issue is dogmatic or unnecessary.

    • MilitaryAtheist

      Did you not see that is exactly what happened? Forced prayer? The evils of theocracy was the reason this nation existed at all. We should fight with all ferocity regardless of religious belief the corruption that inevitably results from the noxious mixture of government and religion.

  • Nomadling

    This is sooo small time! Causes pain to those who are aware of it. Energy wasted and does not benefit your organization in ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM! Beating your head against the archaic wall of religious symbols will benefit no one.

    I’m an angry atheist, and am appalled at the energy you all are taking regarding these crosses.

    ~ ~ ~You are giving them more meaning than necessary!!!!!

    Do something more constructive with your time and political clout. Take down the church from within.

    ~Educate the theists by teaching them what their bible actually says. Many of them have never read it – maybe knowing all the contradictions and violence might enable more free-thinkers.

    ~Fight the rampant and organized pedophilia because most pedophiles also self identify as fundamentalist Christians.

    ~Work towards getting the Church to pay TAXES!!! Did you know that over 75% of churches will FAIL if forced to pay taxes!

    Leave these symbols alone and do something more constructive.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jasontorpy Jason Torpy

      Paying taxes on churches would be an appropriate reform in the tax code. It would also be a massive, nationwide effort better approached by any number of other organizations. MAAF is not trying to convert people, so your Bible effort doesn’t fit our mission. Pedophilia is something the Christians should police in their own ranks. Stopping the Marine Corps from providing special privileges for Christianity is something that MAAF can do in support of our members and local communities in need. Maybe your anger would be better spent supporting MAAF rather than jumping in to bash our efforts in order to support your preferred agenda.

      • Nomadling

        “Angry” as in active.

        Educating people on the bible is not meant to “convert” (your word). IMHO to consider educating people on the bible is an attempt to converting to atheism implies atheism is a belief system like religion.

        I apologize. I take a more universal view about Atheism. I didn’t realize this is strictly a myopic MAAF agenda.

  • Agnostic Marine Vet

    I am a Marine Corp Veteran that considers myself agnostic (beeter then atheist because as true scientist we realize that just because you can’t prove it doesn’t mean it isn’t reality) and I am completely disgusted at your attempts to destroy our American values. You don’t like it, don’t go there, don’t look at it, and buy some cheese for your whine. You are after all the major minority in this country so stop trying to inflict your seriously flawed values on the rest of us.

    • Nomadling

      NOT a major minority. Figures as of 2007
      http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html

    • MilitaryAtheist

      This seems to be an awful way to rationalize the tyranny of the majority. American values aren’t determined any particular religion and the “don’t look at it” isn’t a valid argument because the fact of the matter is that it is unconstitutional and as a constitution loving American I am upset that the constitution is violated whether it is looked at or not it is a violation and is still unlawful. It’s a matter of principle, and saying that you are an agnostic does not excuse that fact. I do not accept that the majority should subjugate the minority or impose their religious beliefs upon ‘said minority. We will not and cannot be free until we are free of the presuppositions of the masses. As stated before it is a matter of principle.

      • drew

        Amendment 1 – 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 of the right of the people peaceably to assemble.
        Where does the amendment say anything about the separation of church and state??

        • Sargedaddy

          The answer to your question is “congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion nor prohibiting the free practice thereof”. No branch of the US government may show any preference for any specific religion. A cross on federal land or mandatory Christian prayer on federal time is unconstitutional. This value is more “American” than any value of any specific religion.

          • threenorns

            wrong. the cross wasn’t “erected by the government of the united states” – it was erected by grieving family members. since the decedant died in service to his country, absolutely he should be honoured not just for his service but for what he was.

            instead of removing crosses, add the rest of them: star of david for the jews; star and crescent for the muslims; starbucks coffee cups for the trendsters.

        • Jmjpfu

          You failed to capitalize LIKEWISE: “ESTABLISHMENT OF religion” (INTENTIONALLY?)

  • John Longo

    I am a Christian and a Vietnam Vet. The founding fathers established the separation of church and state to protect the church from the intrusion of the government. rather then the intrusion of the church into government. In God I Trust. I do not take for granted our freedoms. John Adams said “Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people.” On June 14th 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law a congressional act that added the phrase “One Nation Under God” to the pledge of Allegiance. Standing on the steps of the Capitol, he said, In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war. Let those crosses stand as a reminder that we were bought with a price and Christ came to set the captives free. I salute those marines and their families and I am here to remind them that no weapon formed against us can prosper! Blessing my friends and God Bless America. Johnnie L.

    • Rambunctious

      Thankyou for your service John. I’m afraid however it was not for the United States of America but rather, the Christian States of America. You are a Christian Supremacist with a cockeyed view of America and the constitution. Let me help you. America was founded as a pluralistic secular nation in which all religions may flourish but none dominate. There is no official US Religion irrespective of any religions majority. The addition of “Under God” and “In God we trust” to the pledge and currency refers to a generic god and not a specific god such as Yahweh, Jesus or Allah.

      To insert Jesus into the mix would be a violation of the first amendment. And Jesus is not the mascot of America. Your personal beliefs are protected as worshipped by you but you may not attempt to require others to believe as you do.

      You are also dead wrong about the separation of church and state, the express purpose of which is to keep both institutions separate from one another. As as example in Lemon Vs. Kurzman (1971) the Supreme Court held that government, including the armed forces and public education may not recommend, elevate, prefer, advocate or proselytize one religion over another or religion over non-religion. Sectarian religion may not be practiced in government venues including military reservations and public schools, except where designated as a religious venue such as a a chapel.

      Religious heritage is one thing, religious hegemony is another. Those crosses may not stand except as a part of a general religious display featuring elements of other religious bodies practicing in Ameria. Featuring an exclusive Christian display is, again, unconstitutional.

  • Cobraonmyleft

    I’m a Marine Corps veteran, no one said an atheist can’t put up their own memorial. I suggest you go that route. The only reason an atheist knows right from wrong is the fact the free world as we know it was formed by centuries of Christianity.

    • threenorns

      well… not exactly. but good try!

  • Vinomike

    I’m a Christian and a member of the Armed Forces. I fully agree with a staunch separation of church and state. We have been assembled on numerous occasions for official duties and have heard only a Christian prayer to the military assembly. Some of my co-workers are atheist and Jewish etc and are compelled to listen to these prayers at the assemblies. I would feel very uncomfortable and possibly even violated if a Wiccan, Mormon, or Muslim military chaplain gave a prayer in their faith to all of us. I would be reluctant maybe even resistant to attend a mandatory march to a Federal military site to honor fallen soldiers that only displayed Islamic symbols or Wiccan symbols.

    • threenorns

      okay, having prayers at assemblies etc is inappropriate if they’re not going to have a prayer system that allows everybody to follow their own observance.

      but that’s NOT the same thing as a memorial marker.

  • Jmjpfu

    They are all comrades who fought and died side by side. Let these noble warriors lie in friendship’s peace. A flag, a globe, a plaque does not adequately represent the sacrifice these brave men made. A cross is an excellent symbol to use if properly understood-it welcomes all to rest in peace. As this cross is challenged now it was challenged then. Rather it should give hope to all no matter what belief you are. A man once gave his life for his kingdom-the whole world. These Marines gave their lives for our people and 0ther people. This one man gave his last drop of blood for all humanity. These brave soldiers spilled their blood for us all. The one man bore his cross to Calvary. The Marines also bore their crosses as do their friends still and their mourning families. This cross was erected in faith, hope, and love by Marines for Marines as a symbol of His life’s sacrifice and theirs.

    • JasonTorpy

      You’ve adequately represented that the cross is a religious symbol and that the message is that Christianity is greater than America. That is a personal religious belief but not one that the US government can promote on government land. Put that cross up at your church or your private property if you wish.

      • Jmjpfu

        I liked what Johnnie wrote. I can relate to him! Jason, I was trying to describe to you a different way to regard the cross. It requires “fresh eyes”. As I read these comments of the atheist military I see hearts of stone and hate and cynicism. You are hardened not happy people. Attacking is your favorite past-time. I think you have forgotten you are human. You look to each other for affirmation in this nothing creed you embrace. You all are so hung up on the notion of “government land” like it yours! The government is the people. Don’t forget that! It seems to be lost in our leadership today. It is OUR land, Our money. The government is people. It is personal. It is individual. There should be tolerance, understanding, concessions made! When the people’s voices rise up we should listen with open minds and hearts. You may be atheists but what about “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Get rid of the hate and unforgiveness in your hearts. Think of all the hate expressed in these comments and tell me that atheism is a great way of life. We owe these men and all fallen and wounded soldiers and all of you who serve in the active and reserve such a debt!! We cannot ever repay the military for their sacrifices for our freedom. The thing that is the driving strength of many soldiers in battle is their faith. In the end it was their faith that gave them the strength to fight to the death for comrades, family, and government. NOT!!! and Country! Instead of wasting your time and minds on this site I suggest you get out there and help our poor wounded and disabled men. Wounded Warrior is a great organization but they can’t do it alone and the leadership is not lifting a humanitarian finger to take care of the wounded and their families. Somehow I got into this site. Here I am with a bunch of tough atheist Marines? Well I am a 60 year old grandma and you can be as insulting as you want. I don’t care. I am a tough old bird whose been through many battles of my own. You won’t like this but I got through my battles with God’s help! Thank you Jesus!! Anyway, I am going to pray for you all. I hope you find hope. I will give you a clue… it’s JESUS!! God Bless!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cameron-Willadsen/550975056 Cameron Willadsen

    Happy to say that during my time served I didn’t experience any overt attempts by Christian Marines to intimidate or otherwise push me for being an atheist. A few officers in one or two incidents momentarily showed some irritation at the notion. But nothing all that bad.

    As for this. I think it’s laughable if someone says a cross is not a Christian symbol. It’s THE Christian symbol. Even if I didn’t think Christianity was immoral I would say I would not want crosses on certain federal property.

  • threenorns

    i’m not a christian (neither am i an atheist or any of the recognized religious schools) but i find this completely offensive.

    if the ppl buried there are christian, they are absolutely entitled to have their crosses. newsflash: the memorial marker is not about YOU, it’s about them!

    if there are atheists buried there, knock yourself out with the flag, the eagle, the starbucks coffee cup, whatever, to commemorate them.

    • JasonTorpy

      It’s not a burial marker. No one is buried there. Read the 8th bullet and you’ll see MAAF supports religious emblems on personal burial markers. This is just a private citizen building a Christian shrine on federal land in an attempt to push their beliefs on others using the federal government.