Skip to comments.Voters to decide on historic cross
Posted on 05/21/2005 9:58:14 PM PDT by BigFinn
The San Diego City Council voted this week to allow voters to decide the fate of the historic Mt. Soledad Cross overlooking the Pacific Ocean in La Jolla.
The vote represented the newest chapter in a long line of legal battles to remove the cross, led by ACLU attorney James McElroy, who represents an atheist seeking to remove the Christian symbol from public lands.
The legal battles date back to 1989.
Essentially, the voters will decide whether they want to transfer the property to the National Park System as a war memorial.
For more than 50 years, the site has been recognized by the public as a place where war veterans are honored for their service to the United States.
The Mt. Soledad Association manages the site where plaques recognize war veterans who served in the last century. Most of the veterans recognized are from the greater San Diego area.
Last November, two Republican congressmen from San Diego County, Rep. Duncan Hunter and Rep. Randy Cunningham, added a provision to an appropriations bill to allow the city to designate the site as a national war memorial.
If the citizens of San Diego agree with this proposal, the site will be maintained by the National Park System. The bill was signed into law by President Bush in December.
Representatives from the Mt. Soledad Association and the park system were in Washington last week to discuss a working plan to manage the site.
Opponents of the transfer, including the ACLU, contend it is illegal and unconstitutional. However, a lawyer for the Thomas More Center, Charles LiMandri, contends there is legal precedent for protecting religious symbols that already are on federal land.
While the debate on religious symbols on public land slowly is working its way through the courts, the proposition to transfer city property to the federal government will be decided by San Diego voters July 26.
San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy, who is leaving office in July, says "it may provoke additional litigation, but some things are worth fighting for."
Murphy was a supporter of a referendum that forced the city council to revisit the issue. The referendum sparked a record 89,000 petitions to request that the cross not be dismantled from its present site.
The initiative rescinded an earlier vote by the council that would have removed it.
The referendum, put together in just a month, was widely supported by San Diego radio talk-show hosts Roger Hedgecock, Rick Roberts and Mark Larson and Los Angeles host Paul McGuire.
Slightly more than 33,000 verified signatures were required for the referendum to be successful, based on a registered voter base of approximately 650,000 voters.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;.."
What part of "make NO law, don't you get? It means the government has NOTHING to say about religion either the forming of one or the prohibition of one existing. What part of "prohibiting the free exercise thereof" do you likewise not get? It doesn't take an Einstein to understand that this clearly prevents the government from preventing ANYONE from expressing his or her religion anyplace and at anytime. How lame is the argument that invokes separation of church and state as a reason to prohibit any religious expression on State owned property? Care to show me WHERE these words appear in the Constitution? The 3 examples you give as reasons for the courts to entangle themselves in religious free expression are all based on a false premise to begin with, and as such are meaningless.
In the next 3.5 years the USSC will for once and and for all remove the ultra leftist interpretation of the 1st Amendment that has been imposed on us beginning with the O'Hare decision that took prayers out of the schools.
You are consistently failing to address the issue and now you try to heap someone else's BS rather than exhibit high-level thinking skills. Oh, well, let's play your game a bit and see how pathetic you get.
"Some people today assert that the United States government came from Christian foundations. They argue that our political system represents a Christian ideal form of government and that Jefferson, Madison, et al, had simply expressed Christian values while framing the Constitution. If this proved true, then we should have a wealth of evidence to support it, yet just the opposite proves the case."
Note the very last sentence, as I will come back to show how the writer fails to establish support for his own argument.
"Although, indeed, many of America's colonial statesmen practiced Christianity, our most influential Founding Fathers broke away from traditional religious thinking. The ideas of the Great Enlightenment that began in Europe had begun to sever the chains of monarchical theocracy. These heretical European ideas spread throughout early America. Instead of relying on faith, people began to use reason and science as their guide. The humanistic philosophical writers of the Enlightenment, such as Locke, Rousseau, and Voltaire, had greatly influenced our Founding Fathers and Isaac Newton's mechanical and mathematical foundations served as a grounding post for their scientific reasoning."
Here, the author states that "our most influential Founding Fathers broke away from traditional religious thinking". It should be noted that the religious groups that established themselves on this country were no less Christian than the dominant churches that they left behind. Membership of founding fathers in smaller denominations, less established churches, or declining official membership in any of the above does not automatically make their view any less Christian. Indeed, 52 out of the 55 most influential founders were Orthodox or Evangelical Christians (often Presbyterians, Baptists, or Methodists). Moreover, in line with enlightened thinking, they often engaged in a great deal of personal study on religious matters rather than deferring to a religious leader. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both Deists, often wrote letters reflecting such contemplation. Benjamin Franklin, another Deist and often cited as the least religious of the Founding Fathers, nevertheless had very strong religious convictions. I will cite their words as the writer makes his claims.
"A few Christian fundamentalists attempt to convince us to return to the Christianity of early America, yet according to the historian, Robert T. Handy, "No more than 10 percent-- probably less-- of Americans in 1800 were members of congregations." "
This is a clearly absurd statement to maintain, given our greater access to records from the period. Note the following excerpt:
"Against a prevailing view that eighteenth-century Americans had not perpetuated the first settlers' passionate commitment to their faith, scholars now identify a high level of religious energy in colonies after 1700. According to one expert, religion was in the "ascension rather than the declension"; another sees a "rising vitality in religious life" from 1700 onward; a third finds religion in many parts of the colonies in a state of "feverish growth." Figures on church attendance and church formation support these opinions. Between 1700 and 1740, an estimated 75 to 80 percent of the population attended churches, which were being built at a headlong pace.
Toward mid-century the country experienced its first major religious revival. The Great Awakening swept the English-speaking world, as religious energy vibrated between England, Wales, Scotland and the American colonies in the 1730s and 1740s. In America, the Awakening signaled the advent of an encompassing evangelicalism--the belief that the essence of religious experience was the "new birth," inspired by the preaching of the Word. It invigorated even as it divided churches. The supporters of the Awakening and its evangelical thrust--Presbyterians, Baptists and Methodists--became the largest American Protestant denominations by the first decades of the nineteenth century. Opponents of the Awakening or those split by it--Anglicans, Quakers, and Congregationalists--were left behind.
Another religious movement that was the antithesis of evangelicalism made its appearance in the eighteenth century. Deism, which emphasized morality and rejected the orthodox Christian view of the divinity of Christ, found advocates among upper-class Americans. Conspicuous among them were Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Deists, never more than "a minority within a minority," were submerged by evangelicalism in the nineteenth century."
- Section II. "Religion in 18th-America", "Religion and the Founding of the American Republic" by James H. Hutson, Library of Congress
"The Founding Fathers, also, rarely practiced Christian orthodoxy. Although they supported the free exercise of any religion, they understood the dangers of religion. Most of them believed in deism and attended Freemasonry lodges. According to John J. Robinson, "Freemasonry had been a powerful force for religious freedom." Freemasons took seriously the principle that men should worship according to their own conscious. Masonry welcomed anyone from any religion or non-religion, as long as they believed in a Supreme Being. Washington, Franklin, Hancock, Hamilton, Lafayette, and many others accepted Freemasonry."
The writer now appears to attempt some sort of convoluted reasoning along the lines that because many of our Founding Fathers were Freemasons and Freemasonry promotes freedom of religion, that this indicated that they were thus less religious. This is an obvious non-sequitor. While a number of denominations, such as Catholicism, prohibited membership, the vast majority of Freemasons were Christians, often from Evanglical denominations.
"The Constitution reflects our founders views of a secular government, protecting the freedom of any belief or unbelief. The historian, Robert Middlekauff, observed, "the idea that the Constitution expressed a moral view seems absurd. There were no genuine evangelicals in the Convention, and there were no heated declarations of Christian piety.""
The ignoring of the views of documents and persons from which the Constitution was extracted is clearly evident in the writer's argument. He neglects to note the influence of Virginia's constitution and the strength of the writers' religious convictions, merely dwelling upon the words of the Constitution. He clearly ignores the Federalist papers. He also ignores the members of each state's legislature, the ones whose ratification of the Constitution was dependent upon. What is to made of his reasoning other than it indicates that he sees only what he wishes to see?
Even most Christians do not consider Jefferson a Christian. In many of his letters, he denounced the superstitions of Christianity. He did not believe in spiritual souls, angels or godly miracles. Although Jefferson did admire the morality of Jesus, Jefferson did not think him divine, nor did he believe in the Trinity or the miracles of Jesus. In a letter to Peter Carr, 10 August 1787, he wrote, "Question with boldness even the existence of a god."
Jefferson believed in materialism, reason, and science. He never admitted to any religion but his own. In a letter to Ezra Stiles Ely, 25 June 1819, he wrote, "You say you are a Calvinist. I am not. I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know.""
Yet, according to the Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson was a church-going man, a "most regular attendant" at church services in the House of Representatives at which, surviving records show, evangelical Christianity was forcefully preached. His critical thinking clearly did not indicate that he was non-religious, rather that he was willing to question that which others took for granted. Indeed, during his Presidency, Jefferson permitted the usage of federal buildings for religious services. It is readily apparent that the separation of church and state did not mean to Jefferson what many thought it meant. The failure to take into context the spirit and intent of the Founders, clearly leads to fallacious interpretation.
The writer goes on to mention the Constitution and its sparse mention of religion, but as mentioned before fails to properly provide context. It is almost as if the Viriginia Declaration of Rights, the Federalist Papers, and the clear records from that period of our young democratic republic don't mean anything.
"James Madison, perhaps the greatest supporter for separation of church and State, and whom many refer to as the father of the Constitution, also held similar views which he expressed in his letter to Edward Livingston, 10 July 1822:
"And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together."
Today, if ever our government needed proof that the separation of church and State works to ensure the freedom of religion, one only need to look at the plethora of Churches, temples, and shrines that exist in the cities and towns throughout the United States. Only a secular government, divorced from religion could possibly allow such tolerant diversity."
James Madison, another deist, was a a member of the committee that authored the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights and approved of its clause declaring, "It is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other." Indeed, his letters were often filled with spiritual admonition and encouragement. To those not familiar with most of Madison's writings, it seems almost self-contradictory. What many fail to realize is that he was greatly in favor of religious expressions and Judeo-Christian beliefs (he often publicly made religious expression).
"I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of religion or against temporal enjoyments, even the most rational and manly, than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and [who] are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ; and I wish you may give in your evidence in this way."
- James Madison
While being a devout believer, he too was a regular attendant, Madison suspected large religious organizations and government involvement in religion. Thus, he espoused the separation of church and state, not to prevent religious expression, but to prevent the tyranny of the English Crown and the Church of England, various European monarchies and the Catholic Church, and the various dominant sects of Christianity that suppressed other denominations with the aid of government. To him, history clearly showed that the larger the organization and government involvement, the greater the corruption and religious supression.
"[...] Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects? that the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property for the support of any one establishment, may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever?
[...] What influence in fact have ecclesiastical establishments had on Civil Society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the Civil authority; in many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny: in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty, may have found an established Clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just Government instituted to secure & perpetuate it needs them not. Such a Government will be best supported by protecting every Citizen in the enjoyment of his Religion with the same equal hand which protects his person and his property; by neither invading the equal rights of any Sect, nor suffering any Sect to invade those of another."
- James Madison, "Memorial and Remonstrance"
Again, the common message is that church and state are separated for the good of those that value their religious freedom. Yet, Madison was not advocating the right to freedom *from* public religious expression, but the right *of* public religious expression. Once again, the writer demonstrates the ability to ignore an immense portion of a founder's writings.
The writer's comments on the 1892 Supreme Court ruling on "Holy Trinity vs. United States" seems to indicate that the Supreme Court did not actually *officially* recognize the United States as a Christian nation, yet note the following headnotes and statutory reference by the Court.
The word "labor" as used in the alien labor contract law, 23 Stat. 332, prohibiting the importation of foreigners under contract to perform labor, etc., means manual labor as distinguished from that of a professional man, as a clergyman.
Although the alien contract labor law, 23 Stat. 332, prohibits the importation of "any" foreigners under contract to perform "labor or service of any kind," yet it does not apply to one who comes to this country under contract to enter the service of a church as its rector.
It is within the power of courts to declare that a thing which is within the letter of a statute is not governed by the statute, because not within its spirit or the intention of its makers.
In the construction of a statute, both the title and preamble may be considered in doubtful cases.
Where doubt exists as to meaning of a statute, the title may be looked to for aid in its construction.
It being historically true that the American people are a religious people, as shown by the religious objects expressed by the original grants and charters of the colonies, and the recognition of religion in the most solemn acts of their history, as well as in the constitutions of the states and the nation, the courts, in construing statutes should not impute to any legislature a purpose of action against religion.
In construing a doubtful statute the court will consider the evil which it was designed to remedy, and for this purpose will look into contemporaneous events, including the situation as it existed, and as it was pressed upon the attention of the legislative body, while the act was under consideration."
Once more, the ability to see what one wants to see manages to defy the most obvious of truths.
I will close this post with quotes from two more of our nation's Founders.
"Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government."
- James Madison
"You desire to know something of my religion. It is the first time I have been questioned upon it. But I cannot take your curiosity amiss, and shall endeavor in a few words to gratify it. Here is my creed. I believe in one God, the creator of the universe. That he governs by his providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable service we render to him is doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental points in all sound religion, and I regard them as you do in whatever sect I meet with them.
As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think his system of morals and his religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble. I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequences, as probably it has, of making his doctrines more respected and more observed; especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his government of the world with any peculiar marks of his displeasure."
- Benjamin Franklin, letter to Ezra Stiles, 9 March 1790
Allowing "religious symbols" on public land in no way violates the First Amendment.
In no way.
Yeah, noticed his belief in 'nuance' there.
Libs are quite uncomfortable with the original intent of the founders.
That's why they're so interested in revising history to suit what they want it to be.
From the agnostic, deist or whatever revisionist define Thomas Jefferson as:
"And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?"
Preamble to the Constitution: ..."secure the Blessings of Liberty..."
I forgot to post a quote from John Adams. Here's a clearly personal expression:
"I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward, for evermore. You will think me transported by enthusiasm, but I am not. I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure that it will cost us to maintain this declaration and support and defend these states. Yet, through all the gloom, I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means, and that posterity will triumph in that day's transaction, even though we should rue it, which I trust in God we shall not."
- John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams (his wife), 3 July 1776
Here's a second one, just to illustrate how severely misunderstood the Founders are by people seeking to deny the role of religion, particularly Judeo-Christian beliefs, in the establishment of our government.
"The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If 'Thou shalt not covet' and 'Thou shalt not steal' were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free."
- John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America
BTW, When John Adams died, his declared religious affiliation was Unitarian and services were held at United First Parish Church, Quincy, Massachusetts (his birthplace, though it was named Braintree at the time).
The Supreme Court is not the holders of all wisdom. They have made plenty of bonehead and evil decisions. This cross has been in SDGO for decades. When you photographed the cross, did you feel the government was forcing you to become a Christian? In military cemetaries, you have crosses and the Star of David. Do you feel confused - does the government want you to become one or the other?
Yes, it's hard to keep up with it ... it's a good thing it's been turned over to the voters.
SD is a real mess these days, politically ... buncha weinies running the show.
Do you believe in any thing?
Has it always been that you don't have a faith?
I have always been a believer from childhood on....
didnt have a name for it when I was very small...
but was aware of its presents and recognized it when it was described to me and given a name....
If you be so kind I would like to hear what your understanding of how the USA came about?
You will probably get a link from the People For the American Way. Needsomereason probably thinks Crystal Eastman and Roger Baldwin are some of the Founding Fathers.
Woliff what do you think of this link? (post #55)
I always think of it this way.
If the shoe were on the other foot, so to say, as a Christian, would I want the government of our country erecting statues of buddhas (sp?), likenesses of hindu gods, or quotes from the koran at a public park or school?
No, I would not.
I'm just afraid that if Christians "push" too hard on this, that the others will "push" harder and we'll get more "religion" than we want.
Erect a cross or scripture reference at your Christian school or Church or in your home or on your private property. Leave it out of the public arena.
The ACLU is the taliban of the US!!
The taliban blew up a statue of buddha, the ACLU is blowing up crosses across the US. Incredible.
More incredible is that we're letting them get away with it.
It's time to take to the streets against the ACLU and the corrupt judiciary!!