Thursday, January 13, 2011

Congressional bill introduced to save Mt. Soledad War Memorial Cross from ACLU

The spectacular cross presently atop Mt. Soledad in LaJolla, California, was built in 1954 as a war memorial. It wasn't until 1989 that opponents of the cross have been trying to get it removed legally by claiming the cross is a religious symbol and does not make a suitable war memorial.

In 1991, a judge in the Southern District of California, ruled that since the cross was permanently positioned inside a public park and was maintained at taxpayers' expense, it violated the "No Preference" clause of the California Constitution.

In 1992, San Diego voters approved Proposition F, which allowed part of Mt. Soledad Natural Park to be a non-profit corporation for maintenance of a historic war memorial. However, 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."

A few years later, the city sold the land at the base of the cross to the nonprofit Mount Soledad Memorial Association, and it became part of a Korean War Memorial. Since then over 2,500 plaques engraved with names and photos of war veterans have been installed on walls at the base of the cross.

From 1997 to 2008, disputes involving the sale of the land and the constitutionality of the cross on the land went in and out of court. In 2006, the federal government obtained the title to the cross and its surrounding property by eminent domain and declared the cross to be a national war memorial.

In 2008, U.S. Federal Judge Larry Burns ruled that the cross could remain, writing, "The Court finds the memorial at Mt. Soledad, including its Latin cross, communicates the primarily non-religious messages of military service, death and sacrifice. As such, despite its location on public land, the memorial is Constitutional."

Last week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and decided that since the 43-foot-tall cross was on public land and because it seemed to endorse a particular religion, it violated "separation of church and state." The ACLU was glad for the ruling as is reflected in the words by Daniel Mach, Director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief,

"We are pleased that the court recognized the fundamental principle barring the government from playing favorites with religion. Unlike religious symbols on individual headstones that appropriately reflect the personal faiths of fallen American soldiers, when the government displays a giant sectarian symbol as a national war memorial, it sends a divisive message valuing the sacrifices of some service members above all others."
Contrarily, Joe Infranco, senior counsel of The Alliance Defense Fund, was appalled that the memory of troops should be dishonored because the ACLU and a few others are offended by the presence of the cross.

"It's tragic that the court chose a twisted and tired interpretation of the First Amendment over the common sense idea that the families of fallen American troops should be allowed to honor these heroes as they choose."
San Diego County Reps. Duncan D. Hunter of Alpine, Darrell Issa of Vista, and Brian Bilbray of Solana Beach have reacted to the hateful ruling by introduction of a bill to block removal of the cross. The bill would allow religious symbols that are part of military monuments.

Bilbray and Hunter have also written to U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to continue the legal fight to keep the cross from being removed.

For article, references, video, click here.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

American Atheists erect new billboard proudly declaring all religions are scams

Huntsville, Alabama: American Atheists erected a billboard over the weekend, which is seen by northbound traffic on US-231 Memorial Parkway, a billboard which claims that all religions are scams. "This is a great news day for American Atheists!"

While all religions are scams, according to the billboard, "American Atheists" has been "telling the truth since 1963."

Blair Scott, communications director for American Atheists, expressed a purpose for the ad:

"[O]ur target is not the Christians, but all the atheists and agnostics still in the closet who are still pretending, still playing the game, still putting up a facade."

Like who? There is no advantage in pretending to be a Christian, not on earth and not for hope in afterlife.

American Atheists openly and carelessly throw out accusations against people of religion, saying they "scam" to raise money via a fraudulent business scheme, that leaders attempt to intentionally mislead to receive financial or other gain and that their followers are willing victims.

According to American Atheists, all religions receive money from the flocks who are deceived.  However, the atheist group neglects in comment that many non-Christians also give to Christian organizations such as the Salvation Army or Samaritan's Purse because they've seen and believe in the good work such organizations do for humanity.

American Atheists goes on to contend,

"Billions of adherents, many of whom are preachers themselves, all victims of this Great Scam. Some know it's a scam, yet defend religion because they like the lies. They like the fraud. They like the false sense of security. Unfortunately, no matter how much you like a lie, it doesn't make it truth. It DOES make religion a great scam if victims are willing to defend it, even in the face of truth."

Billions? Nobody likes fraud or a false sense of security. In fact, many a Christian throughout history has given up security for their belief.

Do these billboard atheists in America even understand that Jesus and His disciples are a proven fact of history, as much as any historical figure from ancient times? Do they understand witnesses, including those outside the Bible, have documented the wonders of Christ? Do they know what this man Jesus taught? Atheists may refute that Jesus knows clearly about the afterlife while we do not; but they can't refute that many of us truly believe in Jesus as the Son of God.

After the death of Jesus, the disciples hid and were afraid, disenchanted, and discouraged. When He resurrected and appeared to them, they underwent a transformation. Suddenly and seemingly inexplicably, they became without fear. They carried His message to remote parts of the world, all of them eventually (exception John) experiencing a martyred death. Not one of them denied their faith when a simple denial would have saved their lives. Not one.

Reword the atheist's quote, "religion a great scam if victims are willing to defend it, even in the face of truth" to "religion a great power since believers are willing to cling to it, even in the face of death."

Christians are used to being ridiculed by non-believers, and it will be interesting to see how people of other faiths respond to this ad.

For original article/video of ad, click here.

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