Religious Right lies about Mt. Soledad Cross

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The US Supreme Court, more specifically Justice Anthony Kennedy, issued a stay of a lower federal court ruling that said the Mt. Soledad Easter Cross is unconstitutional and it needed to be removed from the city of San Diego’s property by August 2nd or the city would be fined $5,000 a day. U.S. District Judge Gordon Thompson Jr. issued his final ruling back in May to end the 17 year legal battle (see my previous post Enough is enough San Diego – move the dang cross ).

A stay is issued to give the justices time to read legal briefs from both parties in order to decide if they will hear the case as part of their regular docket. The stay was needed because the court may not get to hear the case before the fines start to add up.

Of course the Mayor of San Diego and the Religious Right think that Justice Kennedy’s actions means they have won the case.

It isn’t the first time that the religious right have lied about this case in the past 17 years in their quest to keep the unconstitutional cross up on city property. Plaintiff Philip Paulson issued the following points this week:

* Every annual publication of the Thomas Brothers Map from 1954 to 1989 presented a geographic legal description of the location as the “Mt. Soledad Easter Cross” after which year (cross case was filed on May 31, 1989) the name of the legal location on the map was changed to the “Mt. Soledad Memorial.”

* There was no placard or marker to be found anywhere on Mt. Soledad Natural Park nor at the site of the Mt. Soledad Easter Cross to indicate that it was a veterans’ memorial until after 1992, when the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association installed such a marker with a “Veterans” memorial inscription.

* Every Easter holiday sunrise since 1954 was an occasion at Mt. Soledad for local Christian worship services to celebrate the crucifixion of their concept of a deity and messiah Jesus Christ.

* The Mt. Soledad Cross was dedicated to “Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” in a dedication bulletin by the grandmother of William J. Kellogg, President of the Mt. Soledad memorial Association on Easter Sunday, 1954.

* The Mt. Soledad Memorial Association made improvements to the property within Mt. Soledad Natural Park. All improvements were unwisely added while litigation proceedings were taking place. “Six concentric walls hold 3,200 black granite plaques purchased by donors and engraved with the names and photos of war veterans — currently more than 1,700 are in place.”

* The Mt. Soledad Memorial Association claims that the site for the Veterans’ Memorial on Mt. Soledad Natural Park was dedicated on Easter holiday to commemorate and memorialize those who died during the Korean War era, but the cross clearly shows preference and discrimination only for Christian veterans. The Mt. Soledad Easter Cross is not a sacred symbol for non-Christian veterans, and it may be cogently argued that the presence of the Mt. Soledad Easter Cross demeans them with second-class citizenship status in their own country. The symbol arrogantly proclaims that “Jesus Rules San Diego.”

The other lie the religious right and supporters of the cross are spreading is trying to smear U.S. District Judge Gordon Thompson Jr. as a liberal – activist judge. Thompson was appointed to the bench in 1970 by President Nixon and those who know him or worked for him say is not a liberal or an activist judge.

Thompson is many things, but those who know him – former law clerks, lawyers who have been in his courtroom, former colleagues – say there are two things he most certainly is not: liberal or activist.

Instead they describe the judge – now 76 and on senior status with the court – as a rock-ribbed, serious-minded jurist with a reputation for handing down tough sentences in criminal cases.

“His reputation is he is a no-nonsense, law-and-order sort of judge,” said Peter Nunez, who was one of several U.S. attorneys in San Diego during Thompson’s stint on the bench. Nunez also was the first law clerk Thompson ever hired, shortly after he was sworn in October 1970.

“He is not an activist judge or anything like that, by any means,” Nunez said.

Judge in cross case praised by colleagues

This case has been fought for 17 years and the city and cross supporters have lost every time a judge has heard the case. In fact the US Supreme Court refused to hear a city appeal in 2003.

But the religious right and the pandering city officials who keep this case alive follow the same pattern the so-called Christians seem to follow – lying, name calling, character assassination, fraud, delays, and contempt of court. Kudos to Philip Paulson for sticking with it for so long to make sure the city of San Diego follows the court order.


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  • Daryl Blanksma

    Next thing on the agenda for the neo-Marxists who call themselves “secularists” will be to break the crosses off the graves of soldiers in US military cemeteries. Their goal appears to be to destroy any form of public religious expression. They obviously scorn the First Amendment to Constitution of the United States, seemingly to prefer the precepts of the Communist Manifesto which seek to ban public display of religious symbols.

  • IRISHBOY

    Leave the “Cross” well enough alone. You will get to go to Hell in due time. What is your rush, Scumbag? The cross’s at Military cemetaries next?

  • Well I am glad you asked. If the individual is a Christian then they should have a cross as their grave marker if they want. If others want to place a big hulking cross for the entire cemetery, then there is a problem with that because someone else is making that decision for the person buried there and their families. They are assuming that everyone is Christian.

    Besides the Mt. Soldad cross is not based at a military cemetery. It is still a public park subject to the same Bill of Rights as in other public spaces.

    Now if I do in fact “go to hell” then of course I will reconsider my view.

  • Wolfgang DelaSangre

    Okay, first off, I’m a Christian, and I must say that I found IRISHBOY’s comment extreme and, well, wrong. If you’re going to tell someone their going to hell, it needs to be as a warning and not as a, er… reminder, for want of a better word. I assume you proclaim yourself to be a Christian? If I am incorrect, please forgive me. But if I am correct, then I should remind you that Jesus calls us to preach the Good News, not give them the “TURN OR BURN!” treatment.

    To Doug: About the Bill of Rights… “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” is the “freedom of religion” clause, as it is called (well, as I call it anyway). And what I see is that Congress cannot pass laws that respect an establishment of religion (and the meaning of that is open to very wide debate, I assure you; I’ve been there before), nor can they limit the free exercise of religion. Taken in the popular context, this means that the government (which it does not say, it only says Congress) cannot support or restrict religion. So if someone erects a cross on public property or has a worship service there, how is that government support of faith? Furthermore, wouldn’t the government shooing them off be a limitation of religion? And isn’t that illegal?

  • To build something on public property requires the approval of the public – in this case the people we elect. Enacting a law or policy as a public body – a city council for example – cannot violate the Constitution. A Latin cross – as Mt. Soledad is – is a symbol of a particular religious sect. A city council can’t approve the building of a cross on public property exclusively. Previous court cases have said that a public body must allow any symbol requested or none is allowed.

  • Wolfgang DelaSangre

    Well, thank you for clearing that up, but I wish to ask one more question. How many other religious symbols were erected there, and how many were requested? In fact, has anyone from a different religion even bothered trying? I’m not a very well-informed person, and I find much of the media (and even some bits of Christian media) quite unreliable.

  • I looked around but couldn’t find any info on other symbols except for 1996 when a university professor got a permit to hold an all-religious service on Easter Sunday breaking the historical Christian only service held there on Easter for decades.

    I will point out that the onerous shouldn’t be on “other groups” to ask to be included – the city must seek out other groups to participate. If the cross and site are as generic as they claim then they would have done that. Instead they wasted years and tax payer dollars to save a Christian cross.

  • Wolfgang DelaSangre

    And I’m assuming, by your comment here, that the the city asked for this cross to be erected?

  • Based on past observations, the city probably didn’t ask for it to be built but they did accept the “gift”. Then we go back to the my other comment where an elected body can’t do anything that violates the Constitution.

  • Wolfgang DelaSangre

    And again, did anyone else offer a religious symbol, or ask for one to be erected? If the city did not ask for this to be erected, then there’s no reason to get upset about them not asking anyone else, either. That aside, the only people I hear complaining are ACLU members, democrats who support liberalism, the secular left, etc., etc., etc. By all means, if someone from a seperate religious group wanted to do the same thing, all they had to do was ask and by law they could not be refused.

  • Justice O’Conner wrote in her concurring opinion of McCreary County, Ky., v. American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky:

    “But the goal of the Clauses is clear: to carry out the Founders’ plan of preserving religious liberty to the fullest extent possible in a pluralistic society. By enforcing the Clauses, we have kept religion a matter for the individual conscience, not for the prosecutor or bureaucrat…. [Government] may not prefer one religion over another or promote religion over nonbelief…. It is true that many Americans find the Commandments in accord with their personal beliefs. But we do not count heads before enforcing the First Amendment.”

    It is not a popularity contest. I would be against the cross even it was a star of david, or Muslim symbol. A religious symbol is not needed by a government to honor anyone (if we agree the cross is part of a monument). When it does so it is wrong and nothing you can say – like shifting the blame to those who oppose it – will justify that the Mt. Soledad cross is ok.

  • Wolfgang DelaSangre

    I see no connection between “The government supports religion, oh noes!!!!11!!!one!1” and someone ELSE asking to verect a religious symbol and the government allowing it. The cross was not erected by the government, but by someone else. That is THEIR form of honoring those soldiers, not the government’s. I simply cannot see the connection between government support of religion and someone else getting permission to erect a religious symbol. That’s like saying the manager of a BlockBuster store supports violent movies because he has them for rent.

  • 1. You can’t remove the religious message of the latin cross on Mt Soledad

    2. A casual observer would think the city was endorsing the sect that the symbol stands for.

    3. The cross is not a universial symbol of memorial

    4. Using your argument then I am free to build a house in my local park and there is nothing the city can do since they didn’t ask me to do it.

  • Wolfgang DelaSangre

    And now I see we are twisting things around.

    The state allowed the cross, dude. And as long as the legal intent is not support of religion, then there is no issue whatsoever. You are awfully keen on ignoring the fact that if someone else asked about their religious symbol, they could not be refused.

  • 1. The Latin cross is a symbol of Christianity. It is not used as a symbol in any other religion.

    2. Not all veterans who fought in war were Christian

    3. The city of San Diego wants us to believe that the cross was built as a memorial to all veterans.

    4. Maps prior to 1989 (the year the law suit was filed) marked the cross as the “Easter Cross”. Easter is observed by Christians only.

    5. No veteran memorial ceremonies have been held at the location except when the name plaques were dedicated in 1989. There have been yearly Easter sunrise services held there almost every year.

    6. The cross was dedicated in 1954 to “Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” in a dedication bulletin.

    7. All of the actions of the city since 1989 has been directed to maintain the Latin cross – a religious symbol.

    The result is that the religious intent of the city has been clear and the preference for a specific religion is also quite clear. At no time did the city offer to allow other religious symbols. When given the chance back in 1992 when The Ninth Circuit Appellate Court held that “highly visible, religiously significant Easter crosses, erected in public parks owned and maintained by local government, in the absence of any symbols of other religions, and without any independent historical significance, violated the ‘No Preference’ Clause of the California Constitution” – the city instead tried a sham sale of the plot of land under the cross.

    Remember the First Amendment does not give the government any freedoms — it gives us freedoms against government power. The government has no “right to free speech” only individuals do.