When is a Cross Not a Cross?

Located in suburban Maryland outside the U.S. capital, a symbolic cross stands to honor 49 men from Maryland’s Prince George’s County that were killed in World War One. The cross was originally erected in 1925 on private land but now stands on public land.

To many, the cross is considered a “War Memorial.” To others, it is a Christian symbol and as such, has become the subject of a religious rights case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Not unexpectedly, the cross is supported by President Donald Trump’s administration, but also by members of the American Legion veterans’ group who hold “memorial events” at the cross. They (and other veterans) claim the monument has no religious significance, despite being in the shape of a Christian cross. For them, the lawsuit is misguided and painful. One army vet made the comment, “If you don’t want to see it, take another route.”

Lawyers defending the cross say that aside from its shape, the cross has no other religious themes or imagery. There is a barely legible plaque listing the names of the dead at its base, and while ceremonies are held every year at the site, they are not religious in content. Further, they claim such symbols violate the Constitution only when they actively coerce people into practicing religion. (!)

Those that believe the cross is inappropriate say that while they support veterans, the lawsuit is about the symbolism of the cross, not the fact that it honors war dead.

Thus far, one court has allowed the cross, but another reversed this decision and ruled the cross unconstitutional. The Supreme Court will hear appeals.

From my perspective, this “monument” is in a shape widely known and accepted throughout the world as a symbol of Christianity. Individuals who see it and are unaware of its significance as a veteran’s memorial will immediately recognize its religious significance.

If it were not on public land, the lawsuit would most likely be considered frivolous. However, as with other concerns related to religious monuments and structures (that continue to be) erected on public-owned locations, I believe there are valid reasons for this action.

Where do you stand?

The entire article can be found here.