Supreme Court: Peace Cross Gets to Stay, But Not Because It’s ‘Secular’

“'The fact that the cross is undoubtedly a Christian symbol should not blind one to everything else that the Bladensburg Cross has come to represent: a symbolic resting place for ancestors who never returned home, a place for the community to gather and honor all veterans and their sacrifices for this Nation, and a historical landmark,' wrote Justice Samuel Alito, in the majority opinion.” - Christianity Today

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Dave White's picture

Why did some churches support removing the Peace Cross in Bladensburg, Maryland whose constitutionality the U.S. Supreme Court just affirmed?

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Baptist Joint Committee all signed a court brief siding with the American Humanist Association in urging removal of the Maryland state-owned 100 year old Peace Cross honoring WWI veterans.

The presence of a large cross on state owned land in a traffic circle supposedly violates the separation of church and state. Last week in 7-2 decision the Supreme Court ruled the 40 foot tall monument to war veterans had no sectarian purpose.

In their brief, the liberal Mainline Protestant signers claimed the Peace Cross “demean[s] the most sacred symbol of the faith” and “desacralize[s] the most sacred symbol of Christianity.” Interestingly, the liberal Protestants sounded like evangelical revivalists in their warnings:

On one widespread reading of Christian scriptures, the promise of eternal life is only for Christians. It comes with explicit threats of damnation for non-Christians. These Christian teachings are widely known, most famously from John 3:16. This widespread interpretation makes it impossible for the cross to honor non-Christian soldiers.

Amusingly, the liberal Protestants, in their focus on the unique Christian theological truth claims about the cross, quoted Bible verses they are not accustomed to citing, with hopes of scaring and repulsing the Supreme Court. And they cited the influence of dreaded Evangelicals: