I suspect there’s a better solution to this local religious quandary than having the federal government purchase land it does not need.
A gigantic cross in San Diego that has been the focus of a 17-year court battle became the property of the federal government yesterday with President Bush’s signature.
Supporters hope the legislation enabling the federal government to purchase the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial — featuring a 29-foot cross — from the city of San Diego will protect it permanently. A series of court decisions have deemed the cross unconstitutional because it stands on public property.
“Just because something may have a religious connotation doesn’t mean you destroy it and tear it down,” said Rep. Brian P. Bilbray (R-Calif.), after an Oval Office signing ceremony attended by other cross supporters and Republican House members who sponsored the bill.
If the cross is so important to religious Americans, those individuals and/or groups are free to band together to purchase the property themselves. With private ownership, the establishment clause impact would be gone. That should be obvious. Instead, we’re left with Rep. Bilbray’s strange notion that the property’s religious connotation only offered two choices, government protection or destruction. How strong is faith in this country that its symbols must be protected by government, lest it perish from the Earth? To Rep. Bilbray I say this: just because something may have a religious connotation to a few (or even many) doesn’t mean we all must pay for its protection. If you like the cross so much, use your own money.