Cross in Bennington
Given current jurisprudence, this is surely the prudent action:
BENNINGTON — Officials at the Vermont Veterans Home were ordered to take down a red, white and blue lighted cross Wednesday after trustees decided it is illegal at a state-owned facility. …
Employees had put the large cross, strung with patriotic colored lights, atop a gazebo to honor local Vermont Guard troops who left last month for a tour of duty in the Middle East.
But think of how far we’ve slipped that this seems so obvious. From “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” we’ve arrived at a society in which a state-operated home for veterans can’t follow long American tradition and use a cross “in respect for those who have fallen and those who in the future may fall fighting for the freedoms whose costs are so dear,” as Commandant Earle Hollings II put it.
The invocation of “fighting for freedom” raises perhaps the most offensive aspect of these little debacles:
Hollings said he received a phone message from an irate woman who was disturbed by the home’s display of a religious symbol. Someone also sent a letter to the state, he said.
Irate? One imagines this woman believing that she — in keeping with the American Civil Liberties Union’s rhetoric about itself — is “fighting for our freedoms.” (Many who share her radical secularism would also dispute that our troops are doing so.) The veterans fought foreign forces that would have liked to overwhelm and subjugate our nation and its people; the “separation” purists fight the veterans and the military to snuff out the merest whiff of a religion that a majority of those citizens share.
What often gets lost even in the opening arguments of the debate about church and state is that “this is a Christian nation” is primarily a cultural assertion. Generally, arguments orbit the law — what the Founders intended to constitute through their documents. But the law that those documents created left the nation’s religious culture unmolested, even to the degree of allowing laws and public symbolism to be formed from religious clay.
The underlying dispute in modern times is how our government ought to behave with respect to religion and its symbols, and the victorious view will inescapably affect our culture through the law. One view is clearly the established traditional approach, and the other is revolutionary. One side believes that God, being real, is properly not eschewed from public dealings; the other side believes this to be an antiquated assertion. There is no “separation” at this depth of difference.
The question that must be asked before delving into the minutia of legislation and litigation is what sort of a culture we want. Do we want a culture in which our symbolism is not disqualified from public display for the reason that a majority of citizens attribute religious significance to it? That encourages those who don’t hold the religious beliefs to seek common ground and not hesitate to articulate the shared theme’s manifestation in their own beliefs? Or do we want a culture in which individuals feel irateness to be justified when any group labeled “public” displays such symbols?
In a letter to the Bennington Banner responding to the cross’s removal, Darrin Smith wonders whether “a complaint should be sent to the Arlington National Cemetery too.” The sad conclusion to which one must come, based on the secularists’ rhetoric and its heat, is that they would surely make such complaints if it were politically feasible to do so. In the name of tolerance and freedom, Christian imagery mustn’t be tolerated when deriving from a public source, and the people of our Christian nation mustn’t be free to draw from their faith for public purposes.
So where does that leave us?
Trustees said a more appropriate symbol would be a lighted pole or five-point star as is emblazoned on Army vehicles.
I’m partial to the pole idea. If we must erase a symbol (generically speaking) of suffering, sacrifice, and redemption, it would only be appropriate to replace it with a stiff erection that most aptly symbolizes the manner in which a whining minority feigns neutrality to stick it to an accommodating majority.
(via Michelle Malkin)