The WWI is not an endorsement of Christianity

The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that a World War I memorial shaped like a cross which stands 40 feet tall can continue to stand on public land in Maryland.

The justices explained their decision saying that the cross was erected almost 100-years ago as a World War I memorial and wasn’t an endorsement of Christianity. While their verdict might extend to more existing monuments, it doesn’t extend to new ones. The justices concluded that the memorial doesn’t violate the First Amendment’s establishment clause. This clause prohibits the Government from favoring religion over another.

The case was watched closely because it involved the place of religious symbols in public life. Associate Justice Samuel Alito said that there’s no denying that the cross is a Christian symbol. However, it shouldn’t blind everyone to the other things that the Bladensburg Cross represents. He went on to say that a Government which tears down monuments with religious symbolism across America, as well as scrubs away any reference to the divine, will come across as aggressively hostile to religion.

This ruling falls in line with other monuments that Alito calls “ceremonial, celebratory or commemorative.”

Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented while writing “Just as a Star of David is not suitable to honor Christians who died serving their country, so a cross is not suitable to honor those of other faiths who died defending their nation.

The question presented to the court regarding the 93-year-old “Peace Cross” was a simple one. Does violate the First Amendment, which prohibits government establishment of religion? While some answered yes, some justices in February wanted to see it altered, demolished or moved. The cross was conceived in 1919 by dismayed mothers of the fallen and completed six years afterward by the American Legion. The war memorial has transformed into a part of the town’s landscape.

The Supreme Court’s stance is now clear. Existing monuments will not be subject to the clause while new monuments will not enjoy the same privilege.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter