New veterans cross is perfectly legal

Don Vierstra didn’t like the objections MAAF has made to a large Christian cross posted at Camp Pendleton.
Vierstra and some friends installed the 17-foot-tall white wooden cross on land he owns on the west side of Interstate 15 in Murrieta, near the I-215 split … There are no writings or markings on the cross, though there will be a plaque with a non-religious message, he said. … Vierstra said he wants only to honor the nation’s war dead.

So now there is a large Christian cross at the I-15 / I-215 split north of Camp Pendleton. It’s on private land overlooking a major highway. Good for the Christians. There is no challenge to this perfectly legal broadcasting of Christian ideology. Maybe Vierstra woould be willing to host the Camp Pendleton cross beside his cross on his private land, thus maintaining the symbol in-tact but eliminating the legal violation at Camp Pendleton. That would be a wonderful resolution to the issue.

Thanks… you shouldn’t have.

But Vierstra’s cross is still supposedly posted as a memorial to veterans. As a representative of atheists and humanists in the military, I still take exception to the idea that a Christian cross represents all war veterans or cops or sacrifice. This confusion makes his cross sound much more like advocacy for Christian privilege than a true tribute to veterans.  No one could confuse a large cross as anything but a Christian symbol. However, having been informed that the intent is to honor veterans, maybe one can imagine a lower-case t for “thank the troops”. I want to appreciate the sentiment, even if it’s not presented in a way I would expect. It’s like one of those gifts from a distant family member who really doesn’t know you. You want to be gracious, but it’s hard when they miss the mark so badly.

This is very public speech but still on private land by a private citizen. It’s only when Christians use government land (Pendleton), government positions (LTG Boykin), or a government platform (High School Football, City Council meetings) to promote their religion that we step in and advocate for our rights as citizens as well. Government should be neutral toward religion, not promote one over another. All across America, crosses, generally in singles or threes, overlook highways and billboards warn motorists to accept Jesus or else. These are all private expressions with no atheists marching around declaring them to be legal. Knock yourselves out! Crosses and religious messages in private and public contexts litter America with nary a peep from the atheists. Hooray for Free Exercise and Separation of Church and State, in their places.

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