A campaign is under way to save the Mount Soledad cross in Southern California by urging President Bush to sign an executive order transferring the land to the National Park Service.

As WorldNetDaily reported last week, U.S. District Judge Gordon Thompson ordered the city of San Diego to remove the mountain-top cross within 90 days or face a fine of $5,000 a day.

Thompson ruled in 1991 the cross violates the so-called “separation of church and state,” but the case has remained in courts and become an issue of public policy.

The American Family Association is asking citizens to send an e-mail to the president to effectively take “the case out of Judge Thompson’s hands.”

“If Judge Thompson’s order stands, it could eventually mean the removal of every cross in every state and federal cemetery,” the AFA declares.

Mt. Soledad cross and veterans memorial above San Diego (soledadmemorial.com)

The battle began in 1989 when Phillip Paulsen, an atheist, filed suit, and a court ordered the city to remove the cross. In 1998, the city sold the property to the Mt. Soledad War Memorial Association, which again was challenged in court. The sale originally was upheld but later ruled unconstitutional by the full panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco and remanded back to district court to work out a remedy.

Meanwhile, a California state lawmaker is introducing a bill to protect symbols of American heritage that have a religious aspect.

The Defense of Veterans Memorials Act would be the first state legislation of its kind, mirroring the federal Public Expression of Religion Act, introduced in the House last year, which would remove from judges the authority to award attorney fees, or damages to groups such as the ACLU.

The sponsor of the bill, Republican Sen. Jim Battin, says cities across the nation have been strong-armed into removing religious symbols from their city seals, law enforcement emblems and city property because they can’t afford to defend themselves.

Battin’s bill failed in committee yesterday on a party-line vote of 1-3, with one Republican voting yes and one absent. Three Democrats voted no.

“Unanimous reconsideration has been granted to bill,” Battin communication director Gordon J. Hinkle told WND. “This means bill is not technically dead but headed in that direction.”

Earlier in the day, an Assembly version of the bill was heard in committee, but not without controversy.

According to Rees Lloyd, an attorney who testified in favor of the bill on behalf of the American Legion, Democrats on the panel walked out of the room as he and another Legion representative began to speak – only to return later to vote no on the bill.

“Speaking personally, I view it is an insult not just to the Legion, but to all veterans, and I will not forget it,” Lloyd told WND.

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Previous stories:

Lawmaker denounces cross removal

Judge orders San Diego cross removed

San Diego to appeal cross decision

San Diegans vote to save cross

Judge denies atheist’s bid in cross case

ACLU threatens talk-show hosts over cross

Voters to decide on historic cross

Congress gets into ACLU cross brouhaha

Vet sues to save mountaintop cross

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