Perpetually aggrieved "Freedom from Religion Foundation" notches another surrender

 
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Perpetually aggrieved "Freedom from Religion Foundation" notches another surrender

First the story from KARE11 in Minneapolis:

BELLE PLAINE, Minn. - As the sun disappeared over Belle Plaine Wednesday evening, it’s what disappeared at the Veterans Park that had people talking.

"There are a lot of upset people,” said Joe Burmeister, a local resident and veteran. "It was probably one of the hardest things I had to do in a long time was come up and cut this thing off.”

Burmeister held the cross that used to be connected to a silhouette statue of a veteran kneeling at a grave of a fallen comrade.

It all started several months ago when city officials say someone filed a police report and complained to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Wisconsin. The foundation told the city the cross had to go since it was on public property.

"This isn't just a constitutional violation. It sends a message of exclusion to non-Christians as if only Christian veterans are important,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor with Freedom From Religion Foundation.

There's a video that talks about it too:

I'm not going to go too far into the legal niceties of this one. The city could have fought, it would have cost millions, and winning was unlikely. But this case isn't altogether different from the Mohave Cross case, and there is a passage in there from Justice Kennedy that I wanted to quote, because it sums up exactly how I feel every time one of thoese groups forces some small town to bend to it's demands.

From SALAZAR, SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, ET AL. v. BUONO:

By dismissing Congress’s motives as illicit, the District Court took insufficient account of the context in which the statute was enacted and the reasons for its passage.Private citizens put the cross on Sunrise Rock to commemorate American servicemen who had died in World War I. Although certainly a Christian symbol, the cross was not emplaced on Sunrise Rock to promote a Christian message.  Placement of the cross on Government-owned land was not an attempt to set the imprimatur of the state on a particular creed. Rather, those who erected the cross intended simply to honor our Nation’s fallen soldiers.

Now, reading that you might think that the city had a better shot at winning, but unfortunately the deciding factor was how long the cross had stood, unmolested by legal turmoil.

I didn't see the cross in the memorial as somehow trying to proselytize me to the Christian Faith, nor did I see it as an attack on the Buddhists, Spaghetti Monster adherents or members of the Church of the First Jedi.   But I guess mileage may vary on that one.

I just wish that if these groups were going to do this stuff, they'd go whole hog.  How can we live in a world with a "City of Angels" when these people need to be "Free from Religion."  How can we have a San Diego?  Or the Padres?  If you are going to be so perpetually unhappy with everyone shoving religion down your throat, like this poor town in Minnesota, at least have the temerity to fight up to your weight class.  And while we're at it, can we please take a red pen to the Declaration of Independwnce

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Kindly take out the reference to Creator and add at the end that we are free from the obligation of just being hospitable to those who might have another theological viewpoint.  That is after all what the Freedom From Religion and Military Religious Freedom folks really want.  At least Ranger Up and admit it.

 

 

Posted in the burner | 13 comments
 
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My firm, First Liberty Institute, has worked with The American Legion for years to defend veterans memorials like this one, in court and elsewhere. And we do it free of charge. Several of us, like me, are veterans and Legion members. The extremist groups that complain about these memorials hope that the local government leaders will surrender quickly because of ignorance of the law or fear of legal challenges. Sadly, many do just that, even when the memorial in question is perfectly lawful. If you hear of a complaint over a veterans memorial that uses religious text or imagery please email me or give me a call. The sooner we know about it the better. My contact information is below.
Roger Byron
Senior Counsel
FIRST LIBERTY INSTITUTE
Religious Freedom for All
2001 W. Plano Parkway, Ste. 1600 | Plano, TX 75075
o. 972-941-4444 | d. 469-440-7599 | f. 972-941-4457
rbyron@FirstLiberty.org | FirstLiberty.org

I know your firm well which either submitted knowingly or possible not false statements to the Federal court to become a movant intervenor in my case. My discussion with Hiram Sassar confirmed those suspicions as well as the fact American Leigion Commander Post 290 Don Holland recanted his sworn statement you submitted in his deposition. So your word isn't worth crap around here!

Gary Furuta says those who do not see America as a "Christian county" should pack their bags and "Leave." Sorry, Sir, but I see the U.S. as a nation that accepts and accommodates people of all faiths and even no religion at all. Furthermore, I'm here to stay, with no plans to move. Mr. Furuta goes on to note that "the dead veterans never asked, or cared, what the religion of the person next to them was." That's how it should be, as faith (or lack thereof) does not determine if one is a patriotic American.

as someone who adheres to one of the world's oldest faiths (Zoroastrianism) I was probably the only one of my faith in the US Army back in the 1970's when I first joined. I do not feel that a cross or any other symbol that signifies a belief/faith is ramming ANYTHING down my throat. However these FFRF folks are ramming THEIR beliefs down everyone elses' and that is wrong. What's next? The removal of the head stones at Arlington?

America is God, Flag and Country. If you don't like Christianity, LEAVE. Go to the country that practices your faith. No one is going to stop you. If you don't like our Flag or pledge of allegiance, GO. Go to the country that has a flag you like. No one is going to stop you. If you don't like the way things are in America, my Country, MOVE, GO AWAY. No one is going to stop you.

There are no atheists in a foxhole

Mr. Wesser, no one is trying to deprive anyone from practicing their religion by putting the cross on the memorial. It would not offend me if the memorial had the star and crescent or the Star of David, I would still feel free to practice my chosen religion. The fact of the matter is that a vast majority of the veterans being honored by the memorial are Christian.

If I am to believe what the Courts in the United States have decided in case after case, then God must be kept separate from the business of the state. Maybe that is why we have 200,000 laws to replace the 10 Commandments. But our history tells us differently. Those that came to this land came seeking religious freedom and to worship God as they wanted. They did not come seeking to escape from God. Our Constitution guarantees that there will be freedom of religion. But based on a single letter written by Thomas Jefferson the Courts have ruled we must have freedom from religion. Of and from. These two very small words have two totally different meanings. But I am a simple minded man who keeps wondering “Is there a place for God in our country?” Even Thomas Jefferson acknowledged that God must have a place in our country.

Michael - of course there is a place for God in our country. The First Amendment expresses that we all have the right to practice the religion of our choosing. But another Freedom that the First Amendment protects us from is for our Government to impose or otherwise endorse any particular religion over another. I'm a simple guy as well, Michael, and it sure does seem like the First Amendment is very clear on the Freedoms that we should all be standing up for.

As for the "200,000 laws to replace the 10 commandments", I sure hope you realize that the Ten Commandments weren't the only laws that were handed to Moses in the Bible, and any Jewish person will tell you that there's more to God's law than just those Ten. Also, considering that the first four Commandments (at the very least) were specific to the Jews and Christianity, and even to some degree in Islam - but not specifically for other religions, there has to be some consideration for that when we determine the laws for our Great Country.

I am a Vietnam vet and an atheist. I enlisted because I support our country and the constitution. The first amendment is clear. You cannot put Christian symbols on public land. I pay my dues to the American Legion. Please do not use my dollars to fight the constitution.

The cross is more a symbol of death in this context that an endorsement of Christianity. It is seen by most people as meaning "R.I.P." and not a lot else. Even for those who see it as some sort of Christian witness, and there are those, it hardly rises to the level of "Congress" making a law "establishing" a religion. I would be fine if there were also a Mogen David, a pagoda, etc. which would show that no one thing is being endorsed, though. The "establishment" of a religion would mean that Congress either declared a certain denomination to be the official, government-endorsed one such as Lutheranism long was in much of Northern Europe Catholicism further south, or that the country could start its own religion. The Founders never wanted there to be a "Church of America" as there was a "Church of England". But there was no desire to DIScourage religion either; hence the ensuing "free exercise" clause.

The cross is more a symbol of death in this context that an endorsement of Christianity. It is seen by most people as meaning "R.I.P." and not a lot else. Even for those who see it as some sort of Christian witness, and there are those, it hardly rises to the level of "Congress" making a law "establishing" a religion. I would be fine if there were also a Mogen David, a pagoda, etc. which would show that no one thing is being endorsed, though. The "establishment" of a religion would mean that Congress either declared a certain denomination to be the official, government-endorsed one such as Lutheranism long was in much of Northern Europe Catholicism further south, or that the country could start its own religion. The Founders never wanted there to be a "Church of America" as there was a "Church of England". But there was no desire to DIScourage religion either; hence the ensuing "free exercise" clause.

"There shall be no religious test for public office." Helmet, upended rifle, and empty boots is the sign of a fallen veteran. The cross is specific religious symbol that does not "Represent" America or "veterans." America is not a "Christian" country--We are duty bound to defend the constitution, and that means the parts we like and the part we do not like--America has NO official religion--all are supported and deserve to be represented on public lands. That is what the founding fathers wanted, that is the oath we agreed to.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.