Cross misrepresents service people — FFRF urges Camp Pendleton to uphold Constitution

An unauthorized Latin cross suddenly appearing at Camp Pendleton must come down, says a national state/church watchdog.

A military chaplain with a small group of people erected the cross on Nov. 11 on top of a hill in the Camp Horno area. The Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote to Commanding Officer Col. Nicholas Marano on Nov. 28, urging him to abide by the law and remove the cross.

“To comply with constitutional dictates it is necessary to immediately remove the cross from Camp Pendleton property, or direct that the display be immediately moved to an appropriate private location,” wrote Annie Laurie Gaylor FFRF co-president on behalf of a local serviceman and complainants, as well as other FFRF members.

FFRF is a 17,000-member national state/church watchdog based in Madison, Wis., with over 2,500 members in California and 4,000 veterans and active duty military.

“No court of final resort has ever upheld the government’s permanent display of a Latin cross on public land as constitutional,” wrote Gaylor who added that “the Latin cross stands for Christianity and the overall display promotes Christianity.”

The state of California is not unfamiliar with controversies over illegal religious symbols on public property. For years the city of San Diego illegally hosted a cross at Mt. Soledad. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals governing California ruled in January, in a case involving FFRF Life Member and veteran Steve Trunk, that it may not stay on publicly-owned land.

“It is unlawful for the Camp Pendleton to display a patently religious symbol such as a Christian cross on public property. It conveys the message to the twenty-six percent of the U.S. population who are not Christians that they are not ‘favored members of the political community,'” noted Gaylor.

Up to 23.4 percent of military personnel identified as atheist, agnostic or have no religious preference, according to a 2010 Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers study.

In her letter, Gaylor made reference to the exclusionary effect the cross has on non-Christian military personnel, “making non-Christian and non-believers political outsiders.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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