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Separation of Church and State: Does a cross on federal land violate the establishment clause?

Atop a barren mountain in the vast deserts of California stands a white cross, a memorial to the veterans of World War I that was erected by the Veterans of Foreign Wars in 1934. Many have hiked to the cross, and many more have seen it from afar. The memorial even has been the site of Easter services from time to time.

There is just one problem: The mountain, Sunrise Rock, is located in the Mojave National Preserve, a federal park. Some say that a cross on federal land violates the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which forbids the federal government from establishing or endorsing any religion. You may have heard this referred to as “the separation of church and state,” and it has become the central argument in Salazar v. Buono, the Supreme Court case that was argued on Oct. 7. This case will decide the fate of the cross.

The memorial became the center of controversy 10 years ago, when a former park employee wanted to erect a Buddhist shrine next to the cross. The National Park Service denied the request but indicated that it was going to take the cross down instead. The American Civil Liberties Union applauded the decision, but several members of Congress intervened. In 2004, the one-acre site was made private property and was surrounded by the federal park. The owner of the land, the VFW, must maintain the cross. If not, the land will be taken back.

Supporters of the cross say Congress’ action was a good decision. Representing the government and the parties wishing to keep the cross, Solicitor General Elena Kagan said before the court that Congress took a “sensible action” that ended the government’s entanglement with the Christian symbol while preserving “a memorial that for 75 years had commemorated America's fallen soldiers and had acquired deep meaning for the veterans in the community."

Justice John Paul Stevens seemed skeptical, asking, "How can you say that? If they don't maintain the cross, which is the monument, [the property] goes back to the government."

The parties wishing to take down the cross, represented by ACLU attorney Peter Eliasberg, argued that since the symbol is a cross and no other religions are represented, it can be viewed as an endorsement of the Christian faith.

Justice Antonin Scalia questioned that argument, saying, “The cross is the most common symbol of the resting place of the dead. What would you have them erect? Some conglomerate of a cross, a Star of David, and, you know, a Muslim half moon and star?"

Mr. Eliasberg responded: "I have been in Jewish cemeteries. There is never a cross on a tombstone of a Jew. So it is the most common symbol to honor Christians."

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision by July.

What do you think?

Does a cross on federal land violate the separation of church and state established in the First Amendment? Did making the land private get around the establishment clause? What should the court decide? Join the discussion and let us know what you think!
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Comments
4/18/2017
Bloomsburg/PA
Jake
Mr. Davis/Bloomsburg
I think that we should honor the men and women who have fought for our country. But not having crosses for the memorial.

12/30/2011
Montgomery, TX
G. Roberson
Metzger/Montgomery
The Cross was put there as a memorial to our fallen heroes. If the cross was placed there to promote Christianity then yes, that would be a violation of the First Amendment. The purpose was to honor our men. The decision to sell the property to the VFW was a good move to make everyone happy. The property being owned by a private organization takes the state off the hook on keeping the peace of "separation of church and state". There is no reason for there to be another court case on the subject. Say the court decides to tear it down for some odd reason with nothing to back it up and there for going against the private individual's rights of freedom of religion. What about the Arlington Memorial? Is the government going to tear that down too, violating every grave? Are they going to disrespect the men and women and their families that died for them to have their freedoms?

5/2/2010

Haymay
GLSD, PA
One must remember that the men who wrote the Constitution did not intend for religion to be alienated from the church. George Washington spoke of God in nearly all of his speeches and Madison felt that religion was necessary for good government. The amendments were not intended to curb religion at all. The men and women who erected this cross did not do so to flaunt or promote their religion; they did it to honor the men and women who gave their lives for this country. The government did not erect such a monument, so it is of no consequence. Denying the right to have such a cross would deny Americans the rights of freedom of speech, expression, and would deprive WWI veterans of a proper tribute.

5/2/2010

Haymay
GLSD, PA
One must remember that the men who wrote the Constitution did not intend for religion to be alienated from the church. George Washington spoke of God in nearly all of his speeches and Madison felt that religion was necessary for good government. The amendments were not intended to curb religion at all. The men and women who erected this cross did not do so to flaunt or promote their religion; they did it to honor the men and women who gave their lives for this country. The government did not erect such a monument, so it is of no consequence. Denying the right to have such a cross would deny Americans the rights of freedom of speech, expression, and would deprive WWI veterans of a proper tribute.

1/4/2010

Jonathan
Nimitz HS, Irving, TX
I too, like Priscilla, believe that the cross is naught but a memorial for those whom have fallen. Though to be fair, there should be separate memorials for the non-religious.

12/18/2009

Ryan
Greencastle-Antrim High School, Greencastle, PA
I feel that a “cross” displayed on government property does not violate the separation of church and state as stated in the First Amendment. After all, it was erected in honor of the World War I veterans, not as an endorsement of any religion. However, if people are offended by only having a cross built, I feel that other religious symbols could be built along with the cross to honor veterans who were not of the Christian faith. In the argument, ACLU attorney Peter Eliasburg states, "I have been in Jewish cemeteries. There is never a cross on a tombstone of a Jew. So it is the most common symbol to honor Christians." So, if a veteran of the Jewish faith wants to erect a Star of David, I feel they should have that right. As long as it is a memorial and not a promotion, they should be given that opportunity to build a monument of their faith. With that being said, in my opinion, I think that the cross should be allowed to stay; also, other monuments can be built to satisfy other people’s religions and beliefs.

12/18/2009

Stephen A
GAHS, Greencastle PA
A cross associated with Christianity on a federally owned piece of proper does violate the establishment clause because by doing so, the Federal government is promoting one religion over another. The Establishment Clause lies in the 1st Amendment of the Constitution where it says that “Congress shall make no law establishing a religion.” This includes the Mojave National Park created under Congressional legislation. By having a cross on nationally owned land the Federal government is breaking its own rules found specifically in the 1st Amendment. They are violating one of the key characteristics of the United States: that no religion would be considered wrong or less compared to another and that all religion is equal and free. “The federal parks belong to all Americans and are not the appropriate place for the display of religious symbols.” Claims the Americans United (AU). Also, someone requested to place a Buddha statue on the same piece of property but was denied. In conclusion, by erecting a cross on federally owned property Congress is clearly establishing one religion over others and therefore the Cross should be removed.

11/16/2009

Sandra C.
Nimitz High School, Irving Texas
The Veterans of Foreign Wars' Death Valley post first built the cross at Sunrise Rock in 1934 to honor Americans who died in combat in World War I. The most recent version of the cross was erected 11 years ago by a man named Henry Sandoz. Neither the VFW nor Sandoz ever owned the land where the cross is located, nor did they have permission to build on the land. The controversy on this cross began in 1999 when Buddhist asked the National Park Service for permission to erect a Buddhist shrine on federal land near the cross. When the agency refused, it set in motion a series of events in the courts and Congress. I understand all of this but I do not agree that it is at all relevant to what the cross truly means. If my opinion it does not at all violate the separation of church and state established in the first amendment. The cross was not built for the purpose of pushing Christianity. It was built to honor and remember the people that gave their lives for this country. If the courts were to rule that it violates the first amendment and if it were to be torn down I think that it would really disrespect all of these people. They sacrificed everything for this country and they can't even has a cross? The people that are fighting to get rid of the cross have obviously forgotten what these men and women went through to earn it. I don't recall the opponents on this issue giving up their lives for this country... For so many years we have used the Latin Cross to memorialize fallen veterans. Why is it such a problem now? I mean it took 65 years for someone to find a problem with it... Making the land private definitely helped going around the clause even though it shouldn't matter. I believe the court should leave the cross as is but if other groups of religion request their own symbol that they should be allowed to have it so long as they can prove that one of the Americans that is being honored actually died in Combat in WWI. I just don't think that a cross is that big of a deal.

11/16/2009

Don
Gulf Coast Community College, Panama City, Florida
No, the church is separated from the state because we the people worship and serve an all powerfull God, while the state only has the power and authority granted to it by the people. The state is unable to create a god because God is God and the elected servants are not.

11/12/2009

Christian I
Nimitz hs, Irving, TX
I think that having a cross on federal does not in any way violate the first amendment’s establishing clause. The government isn’t trying to push a certain religion on us, but instead it is a way that people express their feelings of remembering a person who dies. Making the land private didn’t bypass the establishment clause but it is a way of protecting it. The court should decide that if they want to remember the troops then they should keep it as a memorial ground for troops who died during WWI.

11/10/2009

Marissa
Nimitz H S, Irving, TX
I don't think the cross on the mountain violates the First Amendment because it's on private land. However, some ignorant people may make an issue out of it because they interpret it as being up there to promote christianity or religion when that's not the case at all. It was put up there in memorial of the veterans who risked their life for us in WWI and nothing else, isn't it only fair that we put up a symbol in their honor to show that we appreciate what they did for us and we haven't forgotten about them? Obviously, I think the court should decide to leave the cross there and people who don't like it can suck it up and move on because it has no direct effect on their daily life. If you don't like it, don't look at it.

11/10/2009

Josh R.
Nimitz High, Irving, TX
I don't believe that the cross on federal land violates the separation of the church and state established in the First Amendment. Also, the court should just leave the cross alone, it doesn't symbolizes for religion or any type, but for the soldiers that sacrifice their lives in WWI.

11/9/2009

Savanna
Nimitz High School, Irving, TX
I do feel the cross on the mountain pushes the boundaries of separation between church and state. Although I do not feel it was put there to try and push religious views on anyone. It was meant to be a memorial for the lives that were lost fighting for our freedom. Congress did the right thing in pushing to keep the cross there, it has been a symbol for fallen soldiers for years. They found a way to work around the system and the courts should allow the cross to stay.

11/9/2009

Priscilla
Nimitz High School, Irving
I am a bit conflicted. While I do not feel that the state should support any church, I fail to see this cross as anything but a symbol for the fallen soldiers of WWl and subsequent wars. I feel that the cross should be left alone, but other memorials representing different faiths held by the military ought to be put up along side it in memory of other, non Christian/Catholic soldiers who have died for our country.

11/8/2009

Marlen L.
Nimitz High School, Irving, TX
First of all, I don't believe that the cross on federal land violates the first amendment at all. I can see how it can be perceived as a violation of separation of church and state, but we have to remember the reason it was put there in the first place. It wasn't placed in Mojave National Preserve for the purpose of embracing Christianity or emphasizing that religion in any way; it was placed there for the sole purpose of honoring the veterans, who risked their lives for our country. Personally, I like the idea of the cross there as a symbol of honor for the veterans who fought and died for their country. I think the veterans deserve that honor. Also, there was never such a big problem with that cross there, and it's been there for a pretty long time. Until recently, some people have made it a bigger deal and gone against it. I think people need to stop focusing on over-analyzing things and realize that more than anything else it is just a symbol of honor for the veterans, who clearly deserve that much and more. Either way, the cross is placed on private property, and therefore people who are against it are just wasting their time because they can't really do anything about it. If they disagree with it so much they should just stay away from that place. No one is forcing them to look at it or to agree with it. Things would be so much simpler if people didn't push drama all over every single thing in life.

11/7/2009

Olivia
Nimitz High School, Irving, TX
Since the cross is on private land they have managed to get around the first amendment. Although if the cross was on government land it would seem as though the government was endorsing Christianity. As long as the land that the cross is on remains private, the courts cannot do anything.

11/7/2009

Martha
Nimitz High School, Irving, TX
In my point of view, I don’t think the cross atop a mountain violates the First Amendment. I certainly don’t think the cross should be taken down. The cross, even though many think it’s a symbol of Christianity, was just put up to commemorate soldiers for fighting in World War I, not to represent Christianity. I believe that making the land private did get around the establishment clause because anyone has the right to do whatever they want on their property, and since the land where the cross is located is private property, it should not be said that the government is leaning towards a certain type of religion. I don’t think the court should see the need to have this cross removed because it would take away years of memories and long lasting battles that our veterans fought for, and the least we can do for those soldiers is to commemorate them. I think the court should not make the decision of taking down the cross because it would sadden many families who had soldiers fighting in WWI, and it would create a bigger controversy between those wanting the cross to be taken down and those wanting the cross to be kept. I surely don’t think the cross violates the separation of church and state therefore, I think the cross should not be taken down.

11/4/2009

Lilian A
Nimitz High School , Irving/Texas
The whole purpose of the white cross was to recognize the veterans of World War I. Nothing else. I don’t feel that the cross was put there to display any sort of religion or to even offend anyone in anyway. And because of that I feel that the cross does not violate the first amendment. If the court does decided to remove the cross from the national park it would be heartbreaking for many people. I feel that the court should decide to leave the cross up, and if someone does not appreciate what is being displayed then he or she can just keep walking.

11/4/2009

Munira D
Nimitx HS, Irving TX
I think that we should honor the men and women who have died for our country. It is important for us to honor those who are protecting our rights. Speaking of rights, the first amendment clearly states that the goverment may not endorse any one religion. Therein lies our dillema. I think that it can be easily solved by simply changing the memorial. Instead of a cross, we could put up a wall with plaques inscribed with the names of those who died in service.

11/4/2009

Heather B.
Nimitz HS, Irving, Tx.
I think that yes, a cross on federal land would in fact violate the First Amendment. When it comes to law, you have to be very black and white. If it says separate, it needs to be separate. When they made the land private I think that did however, sufficiently get around the establishment clause. Now that it is not federal land the cross is appropriate and in compliance with the First Amendment. As long as the courts maintain that it is private land, the cross is appropriate and not in violation.

11/4/2009

LeAna G
Nimitz HS, Irving Tx
It would violate the separation of church and state if the image of Christ was on the cross but on its own it is a symbol of sacrifice. Making the land private did get around the establishment clause because it would be like a person placing a cross in their back yard it is the property owners choice. The court should decide do leave it alone it is not harming anyone it is actually commemorating the greatest sacrifice one could give and was given by the soldiers, their life.

11/3/2009

Ashlyne
Nimitz, Irving, Texas
The cross, though strongly associated with Christianity, does not mean that it is all about religion. Before Jesus Christ came along it was a symbol of death. And now that Jesus Christ has died on the cross (whether you believe it to be a religious act or not) it is also a symbol of sacrifice. That is what the cross actually symbolizes. Not God, not the Bible., not religion. It symbolizes the greatest gift possible. These soldiers laid their lives down so that we may live better, freer lives in return. Isn't it right that we honor them and what they did for us? So, no. I do not believe that the cross memorial is a violation of the First Amendment, even before the land was privatized.

11/3/2009

Blanca
Canyon Ridge High School, Hesperia, California
religion is pointless! end of story..

11/3/2009

melvin h
nimitz hs, irving,tx
The cross at Sunrise Rock is a “memorial that for 75 years had commemorated America's fallen soldiers”. I understand that if we see the cross at any place, the first thing that is going to come to our minds is that it's a symbol of the christian faith. But I don't think that the white cross located on Mojave National Preserve (which is a federal land) violates the separation of church and state established in the first amendment. First of all, the cross is a memorial to the veterans of world war I, so this means that the government is not trying to endorsed Christianity. In my opinion the cross symbolize resting in peace so I don't see why the court should rule that the symbol might need to be removed. This symbol might not mean a lot to people that criticizes the cross and think that it's just honoring Christians, but for those veterans who bought in World War I means their lives. I think the white cross symbolizes as an honor to all of those people that died in the War and who are still being remembered by those who survived it. It will be a great disappointment for those who lost families members and close friends if the white cross is removed.

11/2/2009

Jose M
Nimitz High School, Irving,TX
I believe that the cross has nothing to do with religon and that the cross is there to remember them soldiers who died in WW1. What do they want them to put then, this is in memory for them, for fighting for our country. I think this does not violate the seperation of church and state. This is something that was supposed to be made to our veterans.

11/2/2009

Cristi W.
Nimitz HS, Irving, Texas
I consider this situation a perfect example of “extenuating circumstances”. Right now, if a cross was planted on federal land just because an individual wanted to express their love for their religion, it would most definitely be considered a violation. But, this cross is for the veterans. These veterans fought for us, some died for us, and the rest came home with a shaken mentality and mindset. I believe that it doesn't violate the first amendment because the cross is more of a memorial, as opposed to a statement of religion. I would personally be hurt if relatives who fought in the war had their memorial taken away because of this argument. The cross is simply a memorial, and a way to say thank you.

11/2/2009

Valentina
Nimitz High School, Irving/ Texas
I don't think that the cross in the mountain violates the first amendment of the separation of church and state established, because the cross was put for the veterans that fought for our country, why should they not be honored? The cross is a symbol of Jesus,but it is also of a symbol when people die, that is why they put the cross on the mountain,for the reason of honoring them. If people are against the cross should realize that it is just a memorial for the veterans,but nothing else. I also think that by making the land private was a good idea, to shut the mouth of the people that wanted it to be remove and to get around the establishment clause. I also think that the people that wanted the cross remove, should learn to ignore it, because I think that is dumb, to remove something very important to the veterans, just because some people don't want to see the cross.

11/2/2009

Jobin
Nimitz, Irving/Texas
I don't believe the cross put on the Veteran Memorial in California promotes Christianity. The main purpose of this cross was to remember the sacrifice of the veterans who died for our country. If someone feels like correlating that to Christanity (Christ's sacrifice on the cross) the American people should not go to such extreme measures like saying it "violates the First Ammendment" because its a representation of other peoples sacrifice. I think making the land private would be a good idea to get around establishment clause because this way, no one would be able to say the cross was promoting any religion. The Court should realize that the cross was not built for the federal government to establish a religion.

11/2/2009

Josevin M
Nimitz, Irving tx
I don't believe the cross was put up there for religious purposes. Its just there for the memory of the soldiers who died for our country. I think the court should decide to keep the cross there for memory and respect to our soldiers.

11/2/2009

Nikki M.
Nimitz High School, Irving, Texas
In my opinion, I think that the cross should be left alone. I beleive that the cross was only put there in rememberance of the veterans that fought and died for us. It wasn't necessarily made for religious purposes.

11/1/2009

saheeta
northeast, philadelphia, pennsylvaina
in all honesty i dont feel as though the cross is really a major violation. to me it seems that people are making the situation bigger then what it really is. okay so there's a cross at the top of a mountain at a federal park, but the significance that the cross represents is far more important than its location. its in the memory of our fallen soldiers, i dont see the harm in that. making the land private was a step in the right direction. if people really feel that strongly about it being there then maybe it should be moved to a non-federal location but i honesly feel it should stay where its been all along.

11/1/2009

Amber H
Nimitz High School, Irving, TX
I do believe that a cross on federal land violates the separation of church and state established in the First Amendment. I also believe that making that land private was indeed a sensible action to take. The cross has become more than a symbol of faith representing a religious point of view, but a symbol of respect for veterans who had passed away. It would certainly seem far more offensive for the cross to be taken down, than for it to left up. Since then, the federal government has been and will continue to be more careful when it comes to what they use as tomb stones or memorial pieces. The courts will hopefully recognize these points and opt to leave the cross alone.

11/1/2009

vaneica
northeast high, philadelphia,pa
The court should decide to keep the cross because it will be a rememberance to people that the veterans died for our rights and deserve that respect. I don't think that a cross on federal land violates the clause because it just reminds us what the symbol is there for in the first place.

11/1/2009

Alwin J
Nimitz High School, Irving, TX
I don't think that the cross on the federal land violates the separation of Church and State . The fact that the cross is located on federal land does not mean that our federal government is trying to exert a Christian influence on the Californians near Sunrise Rock. The main factor behind conflicts such as this cross' location is that people blindly believe in the literal meanings of laws and clauses. Making the land around the cross private does get around the establishment clause but it does not violate it. People should be more open towards the applications of law and not just find faults here and there. The Court should realize that the cross was not built for the federal government to establish a religion.

10/31/2009

Elizabeth Q
Nimitz High School, Irving, Texas
I do not believe that the cross in the Mojave National Preserve is a violation of the establishment clause of the first amendment. When that cross was erected I don't think that the first thing on the builders' minds were to endorse Christianity, they wanted to create a memorial to remember their fallen friends and family. A cross has been a symbol of remembrance for a long time without being a means of promoting Christianity. The cross stood without scrutiny for 65 years, but in an age of extreme individualism and delicate self esteems, people now see the cross as a threat to their beliefs or lack there of. While I do not believe that the cross is a violation of the establishment clause, I do believe that Congress did take an interesting path to fixing the problem. However, they did, in a way, fix the basic problem. The cross is now on private property, but I do not think that they got to the heart of the problem. I believe that the real problem is that there are people upset about seeing a Christian symbol on government property and feel that the government are infringing on their rights. I think that the Courts should rule in favor of keeping the cross, not to push Christianity, but to preserve the rights of the VFW to erect memorials for their fallen comrades.

10/31/2009

Rebecca Q.
Nimitz High School, Irving, Texas
I personally believe that the cross does not violate the the first amendment right of separation of church and state. The cross was not put on this land to encourage any one type of religion, it is not an endorsement of Christianity in any way shape or form. The cross was put there to honor and remember solders that fought for our country to have freedom of speech and religion. All of the solders that fought in World War I that passed away were not all Christians, they were most likely from a variety of different religions. Yet it is not the families that lost loved ones that were not Christians that are complaining or taking this to the supreme court, it is people that are not related to this topic at all. Maybe making the land private was against the establishment clause, but it is all said and done now. The cross has been honoring men from World War I since 1934, and only recently has it been causing controversy. To me this suggests that there are people in America who simply just want to be rebellious and cause drama when really they should probably be the ones who keep their mouth shut and ignore it if they don't agree with something. Therefore I hope that the court has enough sense to allow a memorial to those who fought for their freedom to be able to stay exactly where it has been for so many years.

10/31/2009

Brisli H
Nimiz High School, Irving, TX
People are making this harder than it should be all that cross is trying to do is symbolize that the place is a memorial for the falling soldiers and nothing more. With time that is what a cross has come to become a symbol for the resting. This cross might not even have anything to do with religion.

10/30/2009

Jackie F
Nimitz HS, Irving/TX
I think that they should move the cross/memorial to a different location because making an exception to one amendment may cause others to believe that all of the amendments can have exceptions. Give them an inch, and they'll take a mile.

10/30/2009

Corbin
Northeast, Piladelphia Pa
People are being way to sensitive about this subject of separation from church and state. To me It just seems so trivial for people argue over a cross on a piece of land .Even so it is hard to say because tecnicaly they shuold not allow this, if you go by the amendments of course.But thier are many things I see in my daily life that diturbe me weather it be in the world of entertainment or news/media, but you don't see me complaining.If anything, the media in general should be analyzed heavily! But nooo they complane about a cross in a remote area. It's just hypocritical.

10/30/2009

Joel P.
Nimitz High School, Irving, Tx
The cross atop that mountain is a monument for fallen soldiers, nothing more. I believe that the government did actually get around this clause by buying that land, and nothing can be said against it because it is on private property.. However, the real topic at hand here is the of the separation between church and state. This has been a major problem for Americans for the past couple of years. From taking “Under God” out of pledges to removing the Ten Commandments from federal buildings, this problem doesn't seem to be heading anywhere fast soon. Personally, I think these allegations that the government is endorsing religion ludicrous, and I am sick and tired of having to hear about it all the time. These liberals idiots need and stop worrying about the government “pushing religion down their throats” because in reality, it's not happening. If somebody doesn't like the cross they should just ignore it and keep on moving with their lives. There's no need to go to the supreme courts to argue over trivial things such as this. Maybe I am bias on this issue because I am religious, but quite frankly, I am tired of these moron's having nothing better to do than step on my beliefs. They already crucified my God, now are they trying to crucify us for our beliefs?

10/30/2009

Erick
Nimitz, Irving, Texas
I believe, to a certain degree, that the cross on federal land violates the First Amendment's establishment clause, which forbids the federal government from inculcating or endorsing any particular religion. If the government claims a separation of church and state, it ought to implement this foundation to the fullest. Therefore, the detachment of these two should be absolute. Needless to say, a cross on federal land merges the very two things the federal government is to keep isolated from one another. I believe that making the land private has only served to show the government's leniency for the cross to remain where it stands. In order to actualize the establishment clause, I believe the government should rule in favor of removing the cross.

10/30/2009

justin a
Northeast, philadelphia
When this was established way back when it was very important. However not I feal it does not effect us as it did for people then. It was started so churchs could not controle places by leading them, today in our modern age we hardly see this. Even though the cross is on federal grounds it was been there for a long time and no one has said anything about it before. Who ever has a problem with it is just bored and wants to complaine. My religous symbol is not a cross but I do not have a problem with on on desplay espically if it honoring people that died protecting us. I really feal that the cross does not violate the establishment clause.

10/30/2009

Helga I.
Northeast High School, Philadelphia, Pa
Honestly,I am on an controversial state. I really understand that people might want to leave things as they were; but on the other side America has religious freedom and by not allowing another religion is legally discrimination. I think that by making the land private they got around the establishment clause because when it's another's property; the government can't interfere. I think that the federal government should have allowed people to put their religious symbols but there is not much to do when the land is private property. However, it is not fair that the owner should obey the law to keep the cross because he/she bought the land with their own money.

10/30/2009

Helga I.
Northeast High School, Philadelphia, Pa
Honestly, I am on an controversial state. I really understand that people might want to leave things as they were; but on the other side America has religious freedom and by not allowing another religion is legally discrimination. I think that by making the land private they got around the establishment clause because when it's another's property; the government can't interfere. I think that the federal government should have allowed people to put their religious symbols but there is not much to do when the land is private property. However, it is not fair that the owner should obey the law to keep the cross because he/she bought the land with their own money.

10/30/2009

Sergey
Nimitz high School, Irving, Texas
The cross on the mountain represents nearly a century since our powerful nation took part in a war filled with blood, brutal warfare, and honor. The cross should stay up because it represents the freedom we have earned, and without this freedom we might not have any amendments to enforce. The idea of taking it down would be like a slap in the face for anybody who was apart of World War I and fought so diligently for the preservation of the freedoms we take for granted today. Although it may seem like it crosses the lines for the first amendment it doesn't mean the cross represents a spiritual symbol. The cross is used in the military as a sign of valor and honor, such as the navy cross. Even if it does represent the cross of Jesus, our nation was founded and discovered by men who were either protestant or catholic (with the exception of some Jews) so the cross is more like a national symbol. I don't like these speak outs with people who complain about something so important to our nation, and all they have in their heads is “how can I make this a big deal and cause unnecessary debate?”. These types of people need to look deep inside and understand that freedom is not free, and without those brave new the memorial is dedicated to, we might not have all the freedoms we have today.

10/30/2009

Chris R.
Northeasthigh Frank, Philadelphia
I dont think the white cross violates seperation of church because it is a memorial for fallen soldiers it has nothing to do with christianity. I think some people are getting carried away with these rules. A white cross has been the symbol for fallen soldiers for years there is no reason for all this hype.

10/29/2009

Vanessa H.
Nimitz High School, Irving/TX
In my opinion, I don't think the cross on federal land is violating the separation of church and state established in the First Amendment. The main point of the cross being on the mountain, was for it to just be a monument that commemorated America's fallen soldiers. I don't think the cross was put there to endorse or establish a certain religion on anyone. People should be able to make their own decisions and if they don't like the cross they should just ignore it and keep on moving with their lives. It's just a simple cross, that happens to be a symbol for Christianity, that is located on a mountain. It is doing nothing to stop or change people from practicing their own certain religion if they even have one or not. I guess making the land private did get around the established clause because now the land belongs to the VFW. The court should leave the cross alone and worry about other more important things that are going on in the nation.

10/29/2009

Joseph
Northeast High School, Philadelphia
I don't think that the cross on federal land is violating the separation of church and state. I think it is more symbolic rather than religious. There is nothing preaching or endorsing a specific belief system. The cross was just a way to honor all the Americans who died defending their country. I think the cross should remain right where it is even though it is on federal land.

10/29/2009

Aaron
Northeast High School, Philadelphia/PA
I honestly dont think that a cross on federal land violates the separation of church and state established in the First Amendment. The cross was put up to commemorate our fallen soldiers and there is no harm in that. I don't see why people make such a big deal out of this because it isn't up to hurt anyone or disrespect any religion. There is alot more things in this world to worry about other than a cross being put up somewhere. No one was trying to change people's religions or make them view things differently, they just wanted to represent our fallen soldiers that fought for us. Making the land private did get around the establishment clause because it's not on federal land, it's private. There's no problem with that at all and I think the court should decide to just leave it alone and let the cross stay up. They need to realize that it's being put up to represent something important, not something to disrespect anyone or change anyone's mindset.

10/29/2009

Richard
Northeast High School, Philadelphia/Pa
I feel it is not violating the separation of church and state. I think that this should stay because these men fought to secure our rights. It isn't like there is a church on the federal land. The cross is simply a memorial to the men that fought. They should leave it there.

10/28/2009

Shayla E
Nimitz, Irving, TX
I think the cross on federal land should be an acception to the First Amendment because it does give recognition to the troops that fought to protect our rights. Yes, i think making the land private does get around the establishment, and i think the court should leave the cross alone.

10/28/2009

Nicolette
Nimitz HS, Irving/TX
I am not sure how I feel about the issue of whether or not this cross erected on National Preserve lands is violating the separation of church and state. I see no harm in the cross, though I do recognize the implications of the First Amendment, and how it is being broken. I believe the real question would be whether or not the cross was erected before or after Sunshine Rock was a federal park. If it was erected before, I'd say that citizens had the right to erect the memorial. And if it was erected afterward, I would argue that the cross is exactly what it is: a memorial. It was never a testament to God or Christianity, but to Veteran of Foreign Wars. People who fought for our country in times of destruction and despair. Why shouldn't we remember and honor them?

10/28/2009

gahndi
douglas, philly
i think that the veterans from world war one should be appreciated for what they have sacrificed for there country. I think if they were related to the men and women who gave their lives in order to defend our country. We have to think about how they feel it`s their family and they might take it as disrespect. I would just leave the cross up.

10/28/2009

Kareem
Northeast High School, Philadelphia,PA
In my personal opinion i do not believe that the cross is a violation of the establuished clause of the First Amendment. I stand by my opinion because im sure that the cross was not for religous purposes at all, it is simply the peoples way of identifying and honoring the dedication of our veterans. I most certainly do not believe that the cross is a violation of the seperation of church and state, it just simply respects those who fought for us.if the cross were to be taken down it could possibly be extremely disrespectful to the lives of the veterans and there families. the cross is perfectly harmless and means nothing more than to remind people of the dedication to our country these veterans served so many yeatrs ago.

10/28/2009

Valarie G.
Nimitz HS, Irving, TX
I think that they should leave the cross there. I don’t think that it violates the clause between federal government and the church. I think that making the land private did get around the establishment clause. I think that the courts should just leave it there. It serves as a memorial and a reminder of our past heritage, and the many lives that were lost in the Foreign Wars.

10/28/2009

Bryan
Northeast Highschool, Philadelphia Pa
I believe that this does violate the first amendment but i think it should be taking that seriously because its there to honor people who fought for our country. With out those people who fought for our country their might not be any thing for the amendments to amend.

10/28/2009

Cory
Nimitz High, Irving, TX
I think that the cross in the park is not a violation of the First Amendment because the cross represents veterans from World War I. Making the land private was a good move by the Congress because then the government wouldn't have to keep up with the land; and it moves around the establishment clause because the cross is on private land, not on federal land. If I was on the court I would leave the cross.

10/27/2009

Keenan
Northeast H.S, Philadelphia, PA
I believe that a cross on the federal land is not a violation. I believe this because since its been their for so long it should stay. Its also remembering what our troops did to protect the rights we all have. They also protected these rights that they so call say are violating. If those troops didnt give their life, we dont know what would have happen to our country as a whole. So keep the cross up, its not hurting anyone. All it is doing is remembering the ones who gave their lives for us.

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