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“To you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die we shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders fields.”

— Lt Colonel John McCrae / Second Battle of Ypres
The forty foot tall Peace Cross in Bladensburg, Maryland, at the intersection of Maryland Route 450 and US Alternative Route 1 and just five miles from the U.S. Supreme Court, in the Court’s cross-hairs, and is the object of the American Civil Liberties Union’s and atheists’ hatred. Along with their hatred for many other inherently Christian Latin crosses in America, and it is also the source of incoherent confusion for too many federal judges. If the American people do not battle most fiercely to reverse the 4th Circuit Court’s recent ruling on October 18th, that found the Peace Cross presence on public land to be unconstitutional, these anti-American groups will boldly continue their purge of anything in the public square that remotely resembles religion; and, liberty and freedom cannot long survive, unless Americans once and for all definitively crush these advocates of a public arena free from God.
Started in 1918 and completed in 1925 using contributions from private donors and the American Legion, the Peace Cross honors 49 men from Prince George’s County, who died in WWI. It was erected on July 13th, 1925, and it has stood as a memorial and a gathering place for the community for 92 years, inscribed with the words VALOR, ENDURANCE, COURAGE and DEVOTION.
A two-to-one vote by a three judge panel overturned the Maryland District Court’s previous 2015 decision, that the use of a cross as a military symbol of courage, sacrifice and remembrance, does not mean the state sponsors a particular religion. The plaintiffs, American Humanist Association (AHA), alleged that the cross unconstitutionally endorsed Christianity, and the Court determined the memorial “excessively entangles the government in religion”, as they justified their decision through the fallacious notion of “separation of church and state”.
Chief Justice Roger Gregory wrote the dissent and noted that the Establishment Clause does not require “purging” religion from the public square, but requires only governmental “neutrality” on religion. He added, “In my view, the court’s ruling confuses maintenance of a highway median and a monument in a state park with excessive religious entanglement.”
The First Amendment compels government not to eradicate religion from the public arena, and although it forbids the establishment of a state religion, it doesn’t forbid the sponsorship of religion. If the expression of religious beliefs is an inherent God-designed part of human nature, as the Declaration of Independence proclaims, then government acting to remove religion from the public square would have seemed to our Founding Fathers to be acting in a manner antithetical to our founding principles.
Even should the Peace Cross be solely a Christian symbol and not also a war memorial, the argument offered by the AHA is quite a stretch. Establishing a state religion is a deliberate act by the government, as in the manner the world witnessed the USSR implement militant atheism. It doesn’t happen through scattered memorials, that were erected by private groups long ago to remember the fallen.
However, the courts have not been consistent on this issue. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that the five foot cross erected in 1934 on Sunrise Rock, in the Mojave National Reserve, and also honoring Veterans, did not violate the Constitution; but in 2012, the Supreme Court let stand a lower court’s notion that the 43 foot tall Mount Soledad Memorial Cross, in La Jolla, California, was a violation of the First Amendment.
The Bladensburg Peace Cross, listed in the National Registry of Historical Places, is one of the few WWI monuments in the United States. It was erected during a time when the Cross was a commonly understood symbol of suffering, sacrifice and hope.
When exactly did the Peace Cross begin to violate the Constitution? Never.
In 92 years, the Cross remained unchanged, but America’s judges became intolerant activists after the 1947 Everson case. Leftist activist judges at all levels of the judiciary, who wallow in a sewer of anti-Americanism, have advanced the flawed premises of the anti-Christian bigots from groups like the AHA,and they have violated the Constitution in impermissible fashion, by interfering with the free exercise rights of people, who simply sought to acknowledge their Christian heritage and honor their war dead.
The First Liberty Institute and other defenders of the Peace Cross fear, that if the 4th Circuit refuses their request for the full court to reconsider the case, a dangerous precedent will be set. This will endanger other national treasures, such as the 24 foot Cross of Sacrifice, which was a gift from Canada that has stood in Arlington Cemetery for 90 years. The Argonne Cross, also at Arlington, marks the graves of more than two thousand Americans, whose remains were interred in 1920 from battlefield cemeteries in Europe.
The American Humanist Association has also sued the city of Pensacola,Florida over a cross that has stood in Bayview Park for 75 years, built on the eve of WWII. Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward describes the cross as “an integral part of my town’s fabric, a symbol to our local citizens — religious and nonreligious — of our proud history of coming together during hard times.” This case is on its way to the 11th Circuit Court.
Immediately after the October 18th ruling against the Peace Cross, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan wrote a letter to his attorney general directing him to support a legal challenge against the ruling. In part it read: “The conclusion that this memorial honoring Veterans violates the (Constitution’s) Establishment Clause offends common sense, is an affront to all Veterans, and should not be allowed to stand. I believe very strongly, that this cherished community memorial does not violate the Constitution. Your office will be Maryland’s legal voice in this important litigation.
While it may seem like a win each time a legal team saves one of these crosses, by illustrating its importance as a war memorial and settling for a land transfer, as performed by Congressman Duncan Hunter in the Mount Soledad Cross case, rejecting the distinct religious value the Cross has traditionally held in Christianity is not the proper direction. Our soldiers died protecting the rights that are defining characteristics of our democratic Republic and, specifically, our First Amendment. And with our religious liberties central to this issue, Congress must provide clarity to an establishment jurisprudence in shambles.
The idea that the public display of a Christian cross on public land should be forbidden is deeply anti-American. Our country’s topography is indelibly marked by crosses, so where does this all end for the AHA and militant atheists in their unhinged agenda to remove any semblance of religious symbolism from the public sphere?
Where will the atheists ever draw the line?
Regardless of who likes it or not, America was founded by a people, who were 98 percent Christian well into the 19th Century, and they intended America to be a Christian nation tolerant of all other religions. The first calls for America’s independence, in 1769, were issued by a group of young writers from Yale College, who were fiercely Christian, led by John Trumbull and Timothy Dwight.
John Quincy Adams, the sixth U.S. president, wrote: “In the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked to the birthday of the Savior. The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human governance upon the first precepts of Christianity.”
George Washington declared: “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”
This attack on the Peace Cross is also an attack on America and an attempt to undermine the idea of America, predicated on each individual’s inherent right that lies deep within our heart and soul to have individual recourse to a power greater than the state. This is a war against our Christian faith and our shared memories that we must win, if we wish to prevent America’s descent toward the darkest days of antiquity and preserve for America’s Children the Heritage of Liberty our Founding Fathers left for us.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by iPatriot.com.

Justin O Smith

Justin O. Smith has lived in Tennessee off and on most of his adult life, and he graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 1980, with a B.S. and a double major in International Relations and Cultural Geography – minors in Military Science and English, for what its worth. His real education started from that point on. Smith worked 8 years for the LaVergne Fire Dept – two years as their clean-up boy – and became a working fireman at age 16, working his way through college and subsequently joining the U.S. Army. Since then he primarily have contracted construction and traveled – spending quite a bit of time up and down the Columbia River Gorge, in the Puget Sound on Whidby Island and down around Ft. Lauderdale and South Beach. Justin currently writes a weekly column for The Rutherford Reader in Murfreesboro, TN, which he calls home and he spends as much time as possible with his two beautiful and intelligent daughters and five grandchildren. Justin Loves God, Family and Our Majestic and Wonderful America, and he is a Son of Liberty.

 

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