The Destruction of Religious Monuments

Paige Schneider, Staff Reporter

Many monuments have been constructed over time, many with different meanings and representations. A lot of them were built to honor soldiers or events, but these monuments don’t seem to hold the test of time very well. There has been a lot in the news lately about Confederate Monuments being taken down, with already 30 states have done so. The monuments were removed because of the belief that they glorify white supremacy and memorialize a government who relied heavily on slavery. But it’s not just the Confederate monuments that face the threat of being torn down – its religious monuments as well.

A 40 foot cross in Prince George’s County was declared unconstitutional in October 2017, and a federal appeals court is standing by a ruling in which calls for the removal or destruction of the monument. The monument, known as the ‘Peace Cross’ is located on public land beside a busy intersection, where it has been for the past 100 years. The World War I memorial is maintained with thousands of dollars in public funds and is believed to “have the primary effect of endorsing religion.” In October a three-judge panel said that the cross “excessively entangles the government in religion,” because of its use of taxpayer funds. Some of the solutions offered by the appeals court were that the cross could be removed from public land, or the arms could be cut off. “This is a big win not only for separation of church and state but for all non-Christian veterans who are excluded from an enormous Christian cross war memorial,” says the senior council member of the American Humanist Association, a nonprofit organization that first brought up the legal case. The Peace Cross has yet to be removed.

Much like the case in Prince George’s County, a court in Bloomfield, New Mexico is being ordered to remove another Christian monument – a concrete block that displays the Ten Commandments. The monument is located alongside others relating to the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Adress and the Bill of Rights. “The Supreme Court’s decision sends a strong message that the government should not be in the business of picking and choosing which sets of religious beliefs enjoy special favor in the community,” Says ACLU of New Mexico Executive Director Peter Simonson. On the opposing end, David Courtman, the vice president of US litigation with Alliance Defending Freedom says, ‘Americans shouldn’t be forced to censor religion’s role in history simply o appease someone who is offended by it or who has a political agenda to remove all traces of religion from the public square.”

The first amendment of the constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Religion and Government aren’t meant to be combined, and although history is important, is it important enough to disobey the constitution to keep intact?