High Court to Hear Key Religious Monument Case

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A case before the Supreme Court, Wednesday, could impact the display of religious symbols on government property.
    
Justices will be asked to determine if a cross erected in California's Mojave Desert oversteps the boundaries separating church and state.

The Alliance Defense Fund's Jordan Lorence appeared on Wednesday's CBN Newschannel's Morning program to discuss the case before the Supreme Court.  Click play to watch the CBN News report and the interview.

The eight foot cross-- which is now covered with plywood until a final decision is made-- was put up more than 70 years ago, not as a religious symbol, but to memorialize the fallen soldiers of World War I.

Still, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit after a park employee complained, saying the cross was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion by government.

Those on both sides of the issue say this is an important case.

"The courts have universally said merely being offended is not enough, otherwise, everybody would be in court," said Colby May of the religious rights group the American Center for Law and Justice.

"In other words you're offended by the government spending money on a particular program, you're offended by government being involved in Afghanistan or Iraq or Vietnam or whatever the case may be," he added.

Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church & State said this case has the potential to be a blockbuster.

"It raises a couple of issues," he said. "One: can the government or private entities even display their religious symbol on government property? And also, is the cross really an appropriate symbol to memorialize all war dead, does it memorialize non Christians?

Past courts have left confusion about the issue, with some ruling  and others ruling against religious displays on government property.

The Supreme Court even ruled on the same day that a 10 Commandments display had to come down in a courthouse while a separate 10 Commandments monument could stay up next to the state capitol in Austin, Texas. 

Some court observers feel the justices with this case could set a more clear precedent. 

"The Supreme Court has the opportunity to do the right thing and allow the cross to stand," said Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America. "Otherwise, it will then have to bulldoze Arlington Cemetery, put plywood around our coins, and eliminate and erase the religious symbols throughout, not only our nation's capitol, but throughout our country."

Still, it will likely be several months before a decisive ruling on the controversial issue is made by the high court.

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.