A Maryland town will find itself at the epicenter of a Supreme Court battle Wednesday after three residents and an atheist group complained about its 100-year-old WWI memorial, which happens to be in the shape of a cross.
According to the AP, 68-year-old Steven Lowe, along with two other residents and the American Humanist Association, sued the city of Bladensburg, Maryland, over their 40-foot “Peace Cross” memorial that stands on a highway median commemorating the area’s 49 residents who died in World War I. The group alleges that the memorial’s cross shape suggests that the city unfairly favors Christians, and Christian soldiers, over other groups.
“They argue that the cross’ location on public land violates the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which prohibits the government from favoring one religion over others,” the AP explains.
“I think it was a violation of the Constitution when it was built,” he said. “The fact that it is old doesn’t make it right. It’s an old wrong,” alleged the American Humanist Association’s Fred Edwords, who says the cross illegally celebrates only Christian soldiers.
Despite losing the first round in the courts, Lowe, Edwords and the handful of other naysayers won in a 2017 appeals court decision that ruled the cross unconstitutional.Now, supporters of the memorial heading to the Supreme Court, hoping they’ll overturn that decision.
“Maryland officials argue that the cross doesn’t violate the Constitution because it has a secular purpose and meaning, honoring veterans, in an area where several other memorials to veterans stand,” the AP reports. “On the other side, the American Humanist Association says that using a cross as a war memorial doesn’t make the cross secular; it makes the war memorial Christian.”
While the debate over separation of church and state has long been a contentious battle between religious groups and humanists who want to purge all faith-based symbols from society, perhaps there’s an even more fundamental question to be asked here: just how much of a hobby-less loser do you have to be to pick a lengthy, expensive legal fight over a 100-year-old war statue that has literally no impact on your daily life?
(Cover Photo: Wikipedia/Ben Jacobson)