San Diego: Crucified in Court for Erecting A Cross
The city of San Diego could erect a giant statue in memory of say, Adam Smith or The Beach Boys. But, if it tries to erect a cross in memory of the religious figure of greatest importance to a majority of its residents, it'll get flogged - at $5000 a day. And they call it religious freedom.
After a 17-year legal battle between the city and a self-described atheist, a judge has ordered San Diego officials to remove a giant cross from a hilltop park or start paying $5,000 a day in fines.Boy, they really know how to torture a city.
Defying the order is something cash-strapped San Diego can ill afford. Its pension fund is more than $1 billion in debt, the federal government is investigating, and there's been talk of bankruptcy.
U.S. District Judge Gordon Thompson Jr. on Wednesday gave the city 90 days to comply with a 1991 injunction forbidding the cross on public property.I don't know the figures. But, I am absolutely certain that the majority of soldiers that died in that war were Christian. So, why deprive the city's residents an opportunity to honor their memory the way they see fit? Because a handful of people 'feel left out' by the majority? That's not freedom. That's minority dictatorship. And it's bound to cause far more resentment than majority rule - even if majority rule is not ideal.
"It is now time, and perhaps long overdue," the judge wrote.
The 29-foot-high cross was dedicated as a memorial to Korean War veterans in 1954 on a hilltop that towers over seaside La Jolla.
Philip Paulson, an atheist and Vietnam veteran, has been challenging its placement on city-owned parkland since 1989. He declined comment on the ruling Wednesday, but his attorney, James McElroy, said he hoped city officials would finally back down.
This is akin to saying it's okay for a Jew or an Atheist or a Muslim, any of whom might take down the cross, to buy the land. But, it's not okay for a Christian, who is likely to keep it in place, to buy it. That's religious discrimination - there's NO WAY around that logical conclusion.
The city has tried to sell the half-acre beneath the cross to a nonprofit association that maintains the surrounding memorial walls. But federal judges have repeatedly blocked the sale, saying the transactions were designed to favor a buyer who would keep the cross in place. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the city's appeal in 2003.
I've taken Religion and the Constitution in law school and the Establishment clause cases are a hopeless array of hodge podge decisions that don't even come close to being principled. This is simply because it is IMPOSSIBLE to have your cake and eat it, too.
To be clear, I'm not saying that the Establishment clause can never be applied. It can and should be applied, but not in this extreme and absolutist manner. The notion that there can be an absolute separation between religion and state may sound equitable and fair IN THEORY, but it can only be implemented through a DICTATORIAL policy of oppression. It's a classic case of be careful what you wish for.
A city-sponsored referendum asking permission from residents to sell the property failed in 2004. The next year, 75 percent of the voters approved a referendum to transfer the land to the federal government, but a Superior Court judge ruled that measure to be an "unconstitutional aid to religion." The ruling has been appealed.I'll agree with them on that one. Transferring the land to the federal government would be like paying tribute to Mammon.
For the record - I am Muslim.