May 11, 2010
Memorial Cross Stolen from Mojave National Preserve
The Supreme Court ruled in April that the war memorial could stay on federal land despite church-state concerns.
A cross at the crux of a recent Supreme Court case has been stolen from the Mojave National Preserve in Southern California, the Associated Press reports. The World War I memorial cross, erected in 1934 by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), was at the center of the Court's April ruling about whether such memorial crosses violate church-state separation.
The National Park Service told the AP that someone cut the bolts holding the metal cross late Sunday. Preserve spokesperson Linda Slater told the Desert-Dispatch that the cross's wood covering was noticed missing Saturday. The uncovered cross was seen Sunday but was missing later in the day when preserve staff went to replace the wooden cover.
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on April 28 that Mojave's cross could stay for the time being, as the First Amendment "does not require the eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm." It sent the case back to lower courts that had ruled against the cross as governmental endorsement of religion. Christianity Today has followed the case since it went before the Court in October 2009.
Meanwhile, the VFW is offering $25,000 for leads on the cross's whereabouts and the perpetrators. Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Institute, a Texas-based group "guided by principles that limit government and promote Judeo-Christian values," said they " . . . will not rest until this memorial is re-installed," reports The Press-Enterprise. "This is an outrage, akin to desecrating people's graves. It's a disgraceful attack on the selfless sacrifice of our veterans."