Nichole Hungerford

Controversial Mojave Desert Cross Stolen

Posted on May 11 2010 2:08 pm
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Pity. We might have settled this dispute in a less barbaric fashion.

If you’re not familiar with the disheartening case of the Mojave Desert memorial cross, I will bring you up to speed: The Mohave Desert memorial was erected on the Mojave National Preserve in 1934 by the Veterans of Foreign Wars in commemoration of fallen soldiers, specifically those who lost their lives in World War I. The memorial is an 8-foot cross (some reports say 7-foot), but otherwise, does not include any appreciable Christian inscriptions. 

In 2001, our friends at the American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit

on behalf of a former Park Service employee who, according to the ACLU “still visits the Preserve on a regular basis.” The suit was successful and as a result, since 2002, the war memorial was covered in a plywood box.

However, in a narrow 5-4 decision handed down in late April of this year, the Supreme Court ruled that the war memorial can remain on the preserve. Contra the ACLU, consenting Justices determined that,

the constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion’s role in society.

Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel summed the reasoning of the ruling nicely by saying,

Passive displays like the World War I Memorial, the Ten Commandments, Nativity scenes, or statements like the National Motto do not force anyone to participate in a religious exercise and, thus, do not establish religion.

The ACLU commented, however, that they would continue to pursue the case.

But further court proceedings will not be necessary now, at least not where the constitutionality of the memorial is concerned. The cross was stolen from the preserve Sunday night, police believe.

Details are limited at the moment, but a $25,000 reward has been offered in the case. The Associated Press Reports,

Authorities had no immediate motive for the theft but ideas range from scrap metal scavengers to people “with an interest in the case,” Slater said. A $25,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the thieves, she said.Veterans groups were outraged.

The cross has apparently been replaced a number of times over the year, so I would assume it can be replaced fairly quickly. It will be incredibly interesting to learn who the perpetrators are.

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