WWI Memorial Cross Survives Atheist Attack

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Casey Harper Contributor
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A judge protected a Maryland veterans memorial Monday from an atheist group trying to remove a large cross commemorating the sacrifice of World War I veterans.

District Court Judge Deborah Chasanow ruled the Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial, a 40-foot cross built in 1925, is constitutional despite efforts from the American Humanist Association (AHA) to have it removed.

The atheist group’s argument that the cross violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment did not persuade the judge, who ruled that although the memorial has a religious symbol, the purpose is ultimately a secular one: memorializing the sacrifice of veterans.

Attacks on veterans memorials have become common as separation of church and state groups sue local governments over memorials with religious symbols. Groups do this around the country with mixed success, but the anti-religion groups often intimidate small governments into removing the memorials. The city council for Knoxville, Iowa voted to remove the memorial of a soldier bowing before a cross because it feared a legal battle with the same atheist group would rack up too much debt.

“This case proves to these special interests groups that are constantly attacking our veterans memorials that happen to use religious texts or images and the towns that have them that there is nothing inherently unlawful about having veterans memorial that displays a cross,” Roger Byron, an attorney with the Liberty Institute, tells The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Cross Memorial, Liberty Institute

Cross Memorial, Liberty Institute

Byron says local and state governments across the country can look to cases like these to give them confidence to resist groups like the AHA. Byron tells TheDCNF he does not expect the group to appeal, but that these kinds of attacks are getting worse nationwide.

“I’m a veteran myself, and it is encouraging and a relief to see that this senseless attack on our nations veterans memorials have been defeated, and even with the confusion in the establishment clause arena governments can clearly see that vet memorials that use religious images or text are well within the bounds of the first amendment,” Byron tells TheDCNF.

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