This week the Supreme Court will hear arguments about a large memorial cross on a busy highway in Bladensburg, Maryland. The American Humanist Association argues that the cross is an assault on the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
The Bladensburg Cross was built after World War I primarily by a group of mothers who mourned the loss of their sons in the Great War. Forty-nine men from Prince George's County in Maryland are memorialized on the cross, which was built in their honor in 1925.
Later a highway was constructed that passed the cross, making it widely visible. Jeremy Dys, deputy general counsel of First Liberty Institute, which is defending the cross before the Supreme Court, said in an interview for our television program: "They mimicked the design of the gravestones that their sons were buried under in Europe. And so it stood there without any complaint until about five years ago when some atheist groups got together and decided that the presence of that memorial on public property is offensive in violating the Constitution. The Fourth Circuit has agreed with them."
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The Humanists' website states, "… the longer a constitutional violation like this persists, the greater the harm to non-Christian residents forced to encounter the cross year after year."
Does the Constitution mandate that the cross be torn down? An honest look at our history shows the atheists are the ones out of step with our traditions, as opposed to the 84 percent of Americans who support that cross.
Was the establishment clause violated when:
- The Constitution was signed "in the Year of Our Lord" (as in Jesus)?
- George Washington became the first president under the Constitution, and was sworn in on the Bible, which he leaned over and kissed? Then in his First Inaugural Address, in New York City, he mentioned his gratitude to God repeatedly. Then he led the Cabinet and the congressional members and Supreme Court justices over to St. Paul's Chapel for a two-hour Christian worship service, which included communion, in which he also partook.
- The same men who gave us the First Amendment hired chaplains for the military and chaplains for the House and Senate? This practice has been challenged, all the way up to the Supreme Court, but SCOTUS ruled in favor of the chaplains (1983) – since such a practice predated the Constitution itself.
- Jefferson approved and regularly attended the Sunday morning Christian worship services held in the U.S. Capitol building as president? Jefferson even made a suggestion or two on potential preachers for pulpit supply.
- James Madison also regularly attended those services when he was president?
These last two facts are significant because if the ACLU and the American Humanist Association and their ilk had patron saints, they would be Jefferson and Madison.
- President Abraham Lincoln called for the annual holiday of Thanksgiving (to God), which we continue to celebrate year after year? He also called for a day of prayer on March 30, 1863, in which he declared: "It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God ... and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord."
- FDR issued copies of the New Testament and the Psalms to servicemen in World War II? He also gave out a Jewish version which had passages from the Old Testament. He wrote: "As Commander-in-Chief, I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States." I have a copy of one of these New Testaments. It was my dad's, who served in the Navy in World War II.
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And on it goes.
Joseph Story, a Harvard law professor and Supreme Court justice in the early 1800s, wrote a massive commentary on the Constitution. He said about the First Amendment: "An attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation." Yet that's exactly the false interpretation of the First Amendment the humanists are demanding.
What the American Humanist Association and the ACLU and the Freedom from Religion Foundation are trying to do is to remake America into something the settlers and founders of this nation never intended it to be – a secular wasteland.
Perhaps Ike said it best. In 1955, President Eisenhower said, "Without God, there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first – the most basic – expression of Americanism. Thus the Founding Fathers of America saw it, and thus with God's help, it will continue to be."