Freedom v. Intolerance

10 Views
05/14/10

For the second time in a year, a cross posted on public lands as a historic marker has been stolen. In both cases, the cross was the subject of legal action under the first amendment.



In September of last year, vandals cut down a cross on public beach in Monterey, California. The Monterey cross was erected in 1969 as part of the city's bicentennial celebration. It marked the spot where Don Gaspar de Portola erected a wooden cross in 1769 as a beacon to a resupply ship from Mexico that was lost at sea. The city claimed that it was an historical monument and not a religious display. Prior to the theft of the cross by vandals, the ACLU had been challenging the monument on the grounds that it violated the establishment clause of the first amendment. Last month the cross was restored, but on private land instead of on the public beach.

I was reminded of the Monterey Cross today as I read stories about the Mojave Cross. For those not familiar with the story thus far, the Mojave Cross was erected in 1934 by WW I veterans as a memorial for fallen comrades. It was built on a rock in a relatively remote part of the Mojave Desert, part of the Mojave National Preserve. After a parks employee sued on the grounds that it violated the establishment clause of the first amendment, Congress tried to sidestep the issue by selling a small piece of land including the rock on which the cross stood to the VFW. The 9th Circuit issued an injunction barring the sale from taking effect and the case headed to the Supreme Court where it was decided less than two weeks ago. In a divided opinion in which 6 justices wrote opinions, the Court voted 5-4 to remand the case back to the district court saying that the court should consider the law an accommodation, not an evasion, and to consider other alternatives such as posting a sign that identifies the land as private property.

Setting aside the legal debate about the establishment clause and the extent to which it prohibits the display of religious symbols on public property, these two stories raise an even higher issue. A free society that allows for different, sometimes conflicting, religions to co-exist cannot endure in the face of religious intolerance. Freedom isn't free – it comes with responsibility. In this case, the price of religious freedom is tolerance, tolerance to those whose beliefs differ from our own. Those who would seek to destroy the symbols of a religion different from their own do themselves a disservice, for the destruction of any religious expression threatens their own freedom to worship, or not to worship, as they choose. Whether the vandals were members of another religious group or atheists, intolerance threatens their own religious freedom as well.


Featured Testimonials

I have found employment! Incidentally, I found the posting on your site. Consider me a satisfied customer.
Barbara B.


Facts

LawCrossing Fact #19: LawCrossing’s “Chat Live” feature gives users access to a live operator via instant messaging to help address any questions or technical problems they encounter.


Location
Coeur D Alene, ID
Description
Deputy Public Defender -Grant Duties :Monitors and manages a full case load; maintains and improves...
Apply now  
Location
Albany, GA
Description
Assistant District Attorney The candidate will be responsible for conducting prosecution in court p...
Apply now  
Location
West Bend, WI
Description
Assistant Public Defender Duties: The candidate will provide intake services in accordance with the...
Apply now  
Location
Columbia, SC
Description
Attorney II - Assistant Appellate Defender The candidate will represent clients convicted of crimin...
Apply now  
Location
Laredo, TX
Description
Assistant City Attorney III, (A161610-3), R42 Duties: Under the general direction of the City Attor...
Apply now  
Location
Lakeland, FL
Description
Law Clerk - District Court The candidate will be responsible work conducting legal research activit...
Apply now  
 

NOW TRENDING ON BCG ATTORNEY SEARCH

MOST POPULAR ARTICLES

Testimonial of the Week

Out of all the other job boards I have used, LawCrossing was definitely the most impressive. I have received many job interviews from jobs I applied to on your site.
  • Mark Herskovitz Los Angeles, CA
Job of the Day

Litigation Associate

Los Angeles, CA

28-attorney law firm seeks hard-working, highly motivated litigation attorney with 3-5 years experience in the defense o...

Employer: Yoka & Smith

Job Search Tip

No money for school? Visit the financial aid office of your local college or junior college to inquire about grants, low-interest student loans, or scholarships.