Land Deal Gives Mojave Desert Cross New Life

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A federal judge approved a settlement, Tuesday, that will allow a war memorial cross to once again be erected in California's Mojave National Preserve.

The years-long debate surrounding the Mojave Desert cross came to an end in late April 2010, after the Supreme Court ruled the memorial does not violate the separation of church and state.

Less than two weeks later, however, the cross was stolen.

Tuesday's settlement now calls for the cross site at Sunrise Rock to be turned over to a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Barstow in exchange for donated land. That means the VFW will be able to put up a new cross at the site.

The land-swap deal was ordered by Congress in 2003 but delayed because of legal challenges against the cross.

The original wooden Mojave Desert cross was put up in 1934 to honor war veterans, then later replaced with the steel cross that was eventually stolen.

Several other military memorials have been challenged in recent years by liberal activists and atheists claiming the religious themed memorials violate the separation between church and state.

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