I’m puzzled by the federal judges’ decision on Tuesday that the 43-foot cross sitting on government property in the hills of San Diego isn’t actually a religious symbol. Instead the judge ruled the Soledad Cross merely “communicates the primarily non-religious messages of military service, death and sacrifice.”
U.S. District Judge Larry Alan Burns’ 36-page ruling states that the cross and the memorial that surrounds it is meant mainly for veterans, not for Christians.
I know we’ll read about some Christian groups celebrating the fact that this judge will let the cross stay, but I wonder if they shouldn’t actually be worried about the deeper implications of his ruling. A federal judge decreeing from the bench that a Latin cross is not a symbol of Christianity sounds to me like winning the battle but losing the war.
We saw the same kind of thinking in the original ruling in the Borden case out of New Jersey. A district court ruled that a football coach who bowed his head and knelt while his players said a prayer before a game was not leading them in prayer (which would violate the First Amendment). Instead, he was only acting out of respect for his players’ beliefs and traditions.
Got that? Kneeling and silently bowing your head doesn’t suggest prayer, just tradition.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court over-ruled the district judge’s decision in Borden … watch and see what happens if and when the Soledad Cross case hits the appeals bench.