View Full Version : "The Cross" Not a Symbol of Christianity?

04-29-2010, 06:18 PM
A little background on this case:


WASHINGTON ó A Supreme Court argument on Wednesday about the fate of a cross in a remote part of the Mojave National Preserve in southeastern California largely avoided the most interesting question in the case: whether the First Amendmentís ban on government establishment of religion is violated by the display of a cross as a war memorial.

The cross in the desert was erected in the 1930s by the Veterans of Foreign Wars to honor fallen service members. Ten years ago, Frank Buono, a retired employee of the National Park Service, objected to the cross, saying it violated the establishment clause.

In the intervening decade, Congress and the courts have engaged in a legal tug of war. Congress passed measures forbidding removal of the cross, designating it as a national memorial and, finally, ordering the land under the cross to be transferred to private hands. Federal courts in California have insisted that the cross may not be displayed.

One excerpt (http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-472.pdf) from the arguments in particular, that I'd like to point out:

MR. ELIASBERG: Ö I think it would be very odd indeed for the VFW to feel that it was free to take down the cross and put up, for example, a statues of a soldier which would honor all of the people who fought for America in World War I, not just Christians, and say: Well, we were free to do that because even though thereís the sign that says, this cross is designated to honor all the ó

JUSTICE SCALIA: The cross doesnít honor non-Christians who fought in the war? Is that ó is that ó

MR. ELIASBERG: I believe thatís actually correct.

JUSTICE SCALIA: Where does it say that?

MR. ELIASBERG: It doesnít say that, but a cross is the predominant symbol of Christianity and it signifies that Jesus is the son of God and died to redeem mankind for our sins, and I believe thatís why the Jewish war veterans ó

JUSTICE SCALIA: Itís erected as a war memorial. I assume it is erected in honor of all of the war dead. Itís the ó the cross is the ó is the most common symbol of ó of ó of the resting place of the dead, and it doesnít seem to me ó what would you have them erect? A cross ó some conglomerate of a cross, a Star of David, and you know, a Moslem half moon and star?

MR. ELIASBERG: Well, Justice Scalia, if I may go to your first point. The cross is the most common symbol of the resting place of Christians. I have been in Jewish cemeteries. There is never a cross on a tombstone of a Jew.


MR. ELIASBERG: So it is the most common symbol to honor Christians.

JUSTICE SCALIA: I donít think you can leap from that to the conclusion that the only war dead that that cross honors are the Christian war dead. I think thatís an outrageous conclusion.

MR. ELIASBERG: Well, my ó the point of my ó point here is to say that there is a reason the Jewish war veterans came in and said we donít feel honored by this cross. This cross canít honor us because it is a religious symbol of another religion.

Please note in advance that I am not supporting one side or the other of this case (I do have an opinion, but that's not the point of this topic). I posted this because (A) in another topic, we were discussing the implications of "In God We Trust" on our U.S. coins and bills, and I can't seem to find that topic, and (B) I'm interested in discussing the implications of this ruling --- that a cross (used as a gravestone decorum) is not inherently a symbol of Christianity. If you believe it's not, then what do you think it's a symbol of?

Although, I might also want to point out --- this case was not brought by a "militant atheist," it was brought by a Jewish man. So inb4 "militant atheists r so petty lol :p"


04-30-2010, 10:57 AM
Sounds a lot like Christian arrogance in believing that the cross would be some sort of symbol of universal resting place of the dead. It's not. It signifies the death of Jesus and the global religion that has built itself around the story and teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible. While the symbol might've been used somewhere at some point in time to signify other things, right now that's the context and the meaning of it, and you can't take that away from it.

05-01-2010, 12:28 PM
Actually, the cross can symbolize what you want it to. For example, the cross signified punishment and crime to ancient Romans. So if an ancient Roman time traveled they would be mighty surprised that so many people worship a criminal. That and jelly filled doughnuts.

05-01-2010, 01:17 PM
Well Vera specifically mentioned that the context was important, like today and in the cultural context of Christianity globally.

And while I do understand the arguments made by the lawyer (who obviously is of Jewish descent, Mr S. Martyr), and while I do understand the unrest created by this memorial, I just can't motivate myself to care. Perhaps I don't know enough about the issue.

Vera's right, it does seem like cultural or religious arrogance. And really, whoever designed this memorial should go down in the history books as 'the guy who sucks at memorials'. Right next to the guy who made the statue for African anti-colonialism and the people responsible for any number of garish Soviet or North Korean statues.

05-01-2010, 06:36 PM
You're trying to come off objective in a way, which is sweet, but absolutely useless. Your stance on the matter was obvious with the first couple of words you said. Very adorable, which regretfully doesn't equal rationality.

reading this post, evaluating the meaning, lettting sink in the words, having a good look at it, simply makes me think; "neeeeeexxt!"

05-01-2010, 06:45 PM
Just read back my posts & figured how annoying I can be! Exceptionally....

05-01-2010, 08:53 PM
You're trying to come off objective in a way, which is sweet, but absolutely useless. Your stance on the matter was obvious with the first couple of words you said. Very adorable, which regretfully doesn't equal rationality.

Actually, I'm not "trying to come off as objective." That's why I told you that I have a stance on the issue, but rather that I'm not trying to push my stance. I'm asking what other people think of the same situation --- because I was curious what other people would think, given the same sources and information.