Christian symbols under attack
After recent successive issues that have reached the courts over Christian symbols such as the cross and an army emblem, some are asking, “Are Christian symbols under attack?”
The most recent issue, as reported by the Associated Press (AP) involves an army emblem of a Colorado hospital. The emblem contains a cross and the motto, “Pro deo et humanitate” or “For God and humanity.”
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) has asked the Army to change the emblem of Evans Army Community Hospital at Fort Carson, Colorado noting it could violate the constitutional requirement for separation of church and state, the AP reported.
The AP said the MRFF is the same group that persuaded the Pentagon to rescind their invitation to evangelist Franklin Graham to speak on the May 6 National Day of Prayer, because in 2001 Graham had said that “Islam is evil.”
In a separate incident, a judge had ruled recently that the National Day of Prayer, which is an annual event that has been held since 1952 is unconstitutional. The Obama administration expressed plans to appeal the ruling and the Justice department filed a formal notice of its plans for appeal, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.
With regard to the hospital emblem, Lt. Col Steve Wollman said Fort Carson commanders will review the MRFF complaint. However he noted that the motto on the emblem, approved in 1969 by the Army Institute of Heraldry, dates back to pre-Christian, Hippocratic times. Hippocrates is renowned as the father of medicine, the AP said.
Wollman also said the cross with the spiked base was used by pilgrims to mark the ground of their campsite. Mikey Weinstein, president of the MRFF said he filed his complaint on behalf of 43 people in Fort Carson. However, Weinstein said the 43 did not want to be identified, according to the AP report.
In another incident, the Supreme Court (SC) overturned a federal court ruling which sought to remove a 75-year-old, seven foot tall cross from the Mojave National Park in California, the AP said.
The SC, through a slim 5-4 vote said the cross honored military veterans from WWI and furthermore, the land on which the cross stood on had already been transferred to private ownership.
Two similar cases are currently filed in the Federal courts. One involves a 29-foot cross on Mt. Soledad, San Diego. The other involves the state of Utah, which uses 12-foot high crosses that are placed along the roadside as memorials to honor deceased highway patrol officers, according to the AP.
The Supreme Court decision that overruled a lower court regarding the cross in the Mojave National Park noted that separation of church and state “does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm,’’ the Boston Globe reported.