You have already heard about the Mojave cross. Since 1999, the Mojave Desert cross has been he subject of an embittered court battle championed by the ACLU. On Wednesday it will be high court judgment day for this war memorial.
Mojave National Preserve Cross: A Brief History of Time
The Mojave cross dates back to 1934, when its first version was erected on Sunrise Rock as a war veteran memorial. As outlined by Snopes, the land on which the cross sits is now under federal ownership and known to Californians as the Mojave Land Preserve. It is this fact that has the ACLU arguing against religious symbols such as this, asserting a violation of the separation of church and state. Ever since 1999, the organization devoted to the protection of civil liberties has sought to protect Californians and other passers by from having their eyes offended by a religious symbol on a federal piece of land.
Mojave Memorial Cross Covered
As the wrangling over the Mojave cross continued, the cross portion was covered with a crude plywood box. It is noteworthy that the Mojave national preserve cross is not actually a tourist attraction, shrine, or church on federal land. It is merely a cross, where occasionally local faithful will gather to reflect, pray, or just hang out. As pointed out by CNN, the individual offended by the cross shape of the war memorial does not objet to there being a war memorial on federal land; all that bothers him is the shape.
Taking the Separation of Church and State to the Extreme
In an effort to set the record straight, the ACLU published a memorandum that outlines the organization’s stand on gravestones and grave markers. It assures the general public that there is no movement underfoot to cause the removal of crosses from federal cemeteries, such as Arlington, or from private gravestones.
That being said, what about the various memorials to gang shooting victims in Los Angeles and those that commemorate the dead from car accidents at particularly treacherous stretches of California highways? On a road trip to Las Vegas I counted a staggering number of crosses, some dating back six or more years. These crosses are erected on government owned lands, oftentimes attached to a state owned fence. Many of them show careful tending, such as flowers, photos, and even balloons commemorating a missed birthday or anniversary.
Is America really so small that the Mojave Desert cross is too much to bear? Does the Mojave cross present such an untenable insult to American eyes that it warrants a decade long court battle? Is there really a slippery slope danger that – should the Mojave national preserve cross remain in place – will lead to a sudden mushrooming of crosses all over the federally owned landscape? Moreover, will the ACLU’s objection to religious symbols on federal land also stretch to include family memorials on the streets and highways?