Amendment I of the United States Constitution:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Recently the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case Utah Highway Patrol Association v. American Atheists. The ADF has a story on the matter. At issue: whether or not memorial crosses can remain along Utah’s roadways. The crosses mark the places where Utah Highway Patrol Troopers sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. One such cross stands about 90 minutes from where I am writing this. Another is about 15 minutes away from my house, and was erected by the family of a sheriff’s detective who died in a helicopter crash while searching for a missing woman. I knew him. He was a good man, a good cop, and had a wickedly dry sense of humor.
What had the American Atheists so indignant was the notion that the crosses amount to a government endorsement of Christianity as they are located on small plots of public land. The atheists have no objection to say, obelisks, but the crosses have got to go.
The irony here is that in Utah the predominant religion is that of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints, which does not hold the cross in any particular esteem. In fact I have yet to visit any LDS church (and I’ve been to more than a few) that have a cross, picture of a cross, or even cruciform architecture. In fact as members of the Utah Highway Patrol Association have said, the crosses were not erected as expressions of Christianity, but because crosses are frequently associated with memorials.
So the atheists are fighting to remove religious symbols that were not erected as religions symbols. Or as one listener rather laconically put it to me off-air: “What’s next? Are they going to cut down all the telephone poles?” The guy had a point. Telephone and power poles with their cross beams do in fact have a rather Christian look about them. No telling how many people may be thrown into theological conniption fits from having such a symbol thrust upon them by the municipality!