Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The right to be unoffended

Whatever the outcome of Salazar v. Buono, Albert Mohler argues, the one result most unacceptable to Christians is that the cross might be defined as a "secular symbol." From "The Cross of Christ is Not a Secular Symbol":
.... The story is a bit convoluted, but the issue at stake is a cross erected by the Veterans of Foreign Wars at Sunrise Rock in the Mojave Desert. The VFW erected the cross in 1934 as a memorial to the dead of World War I. Sixty years later, that piece of property became part of the Mojave National Preserve, which is under the supervision of the National Park Service. That sets up a legal battle that arrives at the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday. ....

In an attempt to resolve the issue, the National Park Service transferred the property on which the cross stands to private ownership. Nevertheless, lower courts have found that this does not represent a satisfactory solution in light of constitutional questions.

The case before the Supreme Court, Salazar v. Buono, raises very few new issues. For this reason, many observers expect that the Court's majority must intend to send a message as they rule on this case. If so, the Court could finally declare its unwillingness for the legal system to be used as a means of constantly challenging any religious symbolism on government property or under government supervision. If it does not rule in this direction, the stage could be set for an avalanche of legal claims against everything from the language on our coinage to the text of the Pledge of Allegiance. ....

In a brief submitted to the Court, lawyers for the American Center for Law & Justice made the following observation:
This case is only the most extreme example of a phenomenon that has plagued the federal courts for the past three decades. Ideologically motivated citizens and public interest groups search out alleged Establishment Clause violations, almost always in the form of a passive religious symbol or display of some sort, and make a federal case out of offense at the display. The basis for standing is typically that the religious display offends the sensibilities of the plaintiffs. The offense may be characterized as an affront to religious values, or as one in which plaintiffs feel stigmatized as political or community outsiders. But the sum and substance of the injury is that the display bothers the plaintiffs.
This raises one of the central constitutional questions faced by the Court: Is being offended or bothered by a display sufficient cause to be granted standing for a federal lawsuit? As numerous observers have recognized, the only claims accepted by the courts in this regard are those related to religious expression or symbolism. "Offended observer" status is a legal disaster. There is no end to the reasons why any citizen may be offended at any time by any display, language, or symbolism. If the Court does not put an end to this argument, the floodgates will be opened for a virtual flood of similar claims.

After all, the Mojave display is hardly unique in this respect. Far more visible is the Argonne Cross in Arlington National Cemetery, for example, or the Memorial Peace Cross in Bladensburg, Maryland. .... [more]
The current argument most dangerous to both our religious and free speech rights in this country is that anyone who is offended by what they see or hear is entitled to have the offensive object removed or the offending speaker shut up.

The picture is of the Argonne Cross in the Arlington National Cemetery commemorating those who died in that First World War battle.

The Cross of Christ is Not a Secular Symbol - AlbertMohler.com


  1. What about all the crosses at Arlington National Cemetary, Normandy, and other places where citizens have given their lives for freedom? Do these cause offense?

  2. The Argonne Cross is at Arlington. I suppose that as long as Wiccans [and everyone else] can have their own symbol, the individual grave markers aren't at issue.

  3. Have you seen the BJC chime in on this one?
    There's a real shocker.

  4. As Joel indicates, the Baptist Joint Committee [with which Seventh Day Baptists are affiliated] has taken its stand with the "offended." http://www.bjconline.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2921&Itemid=112

  5. Hello
    I just read your article and I think its really very informative.I like it and you are right about that argument.Thank you very much for sharing this with us.



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