Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Americans United Files Amicus Brief In "Cross Display" Case

From the brief (and the press release from AU):
“The harm from them is not that they evoke distaste, displeasure, or even disgust,” the brief continues. “It is that they deprive citizens of the use and enjoyment of public lands, because using a public facility where the government has chosen to erect a monument to one faith stigmatizes nonadherents as second-class citizens, while demeaning the faith of adherents by coopting what is sacred.”
The case involves a devotional symbol erected and maintained by private religious interests on the public lands>
Americans United for Separation of Church and State has urged the Supreme Court to overturn a congressional scheme to maintain a cross on public land in California, insisting that government should refrain from displaying sectarian symbols.

Americans United made the argument in a friend-of-the-court brief filed yesterday in Salazar v. Buono, a legal battle centering on the display of a cross at the Mojave National Preserve in California. The case will come before the high court Oct. 7.

The cross at issue in the dispute was originally erected by the Veterans of Foreign Wars in 1934 and has since been replaced several times by private citizens.

“The cross is a powerful symbol of the Christian faith,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “It does not represent all Americans. Arguing that the cross is ‘non-sectarian’ or that it is a generic symbol for all war dead is offensive to non-Christians and many Christians as well.”

In 2003, Congress approved riders to a Defense Department bill declaring the cross a “national memorial” and mandating a land exchange that would transfer the cross and the property beneath it to private hands. Lynn said this was an obvious ploy designed to keep the Christian symbol in place.

Lynn noted that a request by another citizen to display a Buddhist symbol in the area was denied. This is evidence, he continued, of unconstitutional government favoritism toward one religion.

AU’s brief asserts, “Government-sponsored religious symbols are potent forms of speech that can have real, palpable effects on people who are subjected to them.
Me? I want any and all references to any imaginary being expunged from the official discourses of this, the foremost secular State in the world. Imagine the outcry if, somehow, the currency started carrying the legend "In Allah We Trust!" Or "In Spongebob We Trust."

No comments: