Written by Don Byrd
Last week’s legislative prayer decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a pattern of explicitly Christian prayers to open city council meetings. Could they reach the same decision regarding Christian monuments on public land?
In one recent case involving a large cross monument, the Court overturned on mostly procedural grounds an injunction halting Congress’ transfer of surrounding land from public to private ownership (the case ultimately settled out of court). Many observers are wondering if the Court will next take on the substantive dispute over the memorial cross on Mount Soledad. There the 9th Circuit has ordered its removal from federal land as a violation of church-state separation.
The Washington Post reports advocates on both sides are looking to last week’s prayer decision for guidance on how the Court may view that case and similar cross controversies.
Not surprisingly, Hiram Sasser of the Liberty Institute, which is defending the Mount Soledad cross, believes the decision helps his cause.
“At the very least, the Galloway decision expands the analysis [of the Establishment Clause] to historical practices,” Sasser said. War memorials often include crosses, he said.
Also not surprising is the reaction of those on the other side.
“There is no history of the U.S. government displaying a giant cross to represent veterans of all faiths,” said Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief.