AHA Files Suit Over Christian Veteran’s Memorial

The American Humanist Association has filed a federal lawsuit over a new veteran’s memorial being built at a baseball stadium owned by the city of Lake Elsinore, California. The design of the memorial, which depicts a soldier kneeling before a cross, was approved by the city and its construction is being paid for with public funds.

“The city has clearly violated the First Amendment by unnecessarily choosing a divisively religious means of honoring our veterans,” said William Burgess, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “In addition, the California constitution prohibits any governmental funding whatsoever for religious purposes, including religious monuments.”

The suit contains details about the times several city officials and supporters of the proposed monument publicly declared the Christian symbolism it includes was at least part of the reason they supported its construction. Despite the clearly sectarian motivation for spending public money—and a warning from the town’s attorney that the monument as approved is likely unconstitutional—the city council unanimously voted to approve the monument anyway, saying that they were “taking a stand” for Christianity and against the separation of church and state.

This is another great example of Christian privilege in action. If you’re going to honor veterans, why limit it only to Christian veterans? Do non-Christian veterans not count? You can read the full complaint here.

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  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    saying that they were “taking a stand” for Christianity and against the separation of church and state

    That’s called “evidence” – that’s what that’s called.

    At that point, I hope their attorney handed them their “IDIOT” signs, told them “I’ll send you a bill,” and left.

  • Gvlgeologist, FCD

    I can’t possibly imagine how this could be more open and shut. I hope that all of the opponents of these morons in the next election point out how the council members were warned that this was unfair and unconstitutional by a lawyer and several speakers, and that they wasted taxpayer money anyway, secure in the knowledge that their own pocketbooks weren’t affected.

  • Gvlgeologist, FCD

    I might also point out that the council members were consciously and deliberately giving a big FU to non-xtian members of the military, and thus do not, in fact, honor all veterans. What could have been a thoughtful thank you to veterans and troops has evolved into a deliberate insult to non-xtians.

    The Star of David, added later, was clearly only grudgingly added to appease Jews and what they thought was the law.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    The Star of David, added later, was clearly only grudgingly added to appease Jews…

    …and maybe get AIPAC on their side.

  • http://composer99.blogspot.ca composer99

    As a follow-up to Gvlgeologist‘s comment, I wonder if there is any way to include the city councillors, as individuals, as defendants in a suit such as this?

    Any opinion from people who actually know this shit?

    After all, this seems like a pretty clear-cut case of an externalized cost, where the city councillors put taxpayers on the hook for their own malfeasance.

  • D. C. Sessions

    After all, this seems like a pretty clear-cut case of an externalized cost, where the city councillors put taxpayers on the hook for their own malfeasance.

    I’ll let you know when Joe Arpaio gets a bill for all the money he’s cost me and the other taxpayers of Maricopa County to settle the lawsuits against the MCSO that he’s lost despite being warned.

  • Johnny Vector

    What hacks me off the most about this crap is there’s a perfectly cromulent and totally non-sectarian memorial symbology for fallen soldiers. Gun in ground, boots adjacent, helmet atop. Like this.

    It leaves out nobody, save people who weren’t soldiers. And for me at least, it’s far more emotional. Hell, I choke up just thinking about the fake one of these, with pretend soldiers played by actors, when I worked on a Vietnam war musical, for fuck’s sake. Memorials in the shape of a cross are solely for the benefit of the Christians who erect them.

  • Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    This is another great example of Christian privilege in action. If you’re going to honor veterans, why limit it only to Christian veterans? Do non-Christian veterans not count?

    I think it’s pretty frickin’ obvious this group isn’t motivated to honor veterans. Instead they appear to be leveraging the respect veterans get in order to promote Christianism.

  • pianoman, Heathen & Torontophile

    “saying that they were “taking a stand” for Christianity and against the separation of church and state.”

    Translation: “We know full well this won’t pass Constitutional muster. We know we are effectively wasting taxpayer resources to needlessly put this through the courts. We also know that if the main symbol had only been, say, a crescent moon or Star of David, THEN would we object to it’s construction. This is what you call ‘pandering to the mouth-breathers in our constituency’. Gotta win those elections, ya know!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/den.wilson d.c.wilson

    I hope someone does total up the full dollar amount their “stand” cost the taxpayers, from approval the design all the way through to the end of their losing the law suit. Then they can run ads in the next election, “This is what you paid for a memorial they knew was unconstitutional.”

  • rikitiki

    I’d like to know if those officials had to swear in when elected. AND, if that

    pledge contained the same wording as mine when I joined the Marine Corps:

    “…protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies both

    foreign and domestic.”

    If so, someone should point out and loudly publicize that they are

    the domestic enemies!

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    If you’re going to honor veterans, why limit it only to Christian veterans? Do non-Christian veterans not count?”

    They are honoring non-Christian veterans. If anything, they’re honoring them more. While the Christian is kneeling, the rest are off fighting.

    It’s all right there on the other side of the monument.

     

    D. C. Sessions “I’ll let you know when Joe Arpaio gets a bill for all the money he’s cost me and the other taxpayers of Maricopa County to settle the lawsuits against the MCSO that he’s lost despite being warned.”

    Now, look, do you really think it’s cheap keeping deadly Mexicans (and deadly looks-like-Mexicans) off our streets?

    You remove him (to focus on so-called “real” so-called “crime”) and you’ll pay the real price. Large men with tiny guitars and short men with giant ones running in the streets, dayworkers on every corner, and you won’t be able to move down the sidewalk without stepping over somebody during siesta!

  • chilidog99

    I find it hilarious that they stole the design from an on-line clip art. I wonder if there is a copyright violation there as well

  • rikitiki

    Ok, so my Google-fu isn’t the best, but I did find this for the Oath of Office for the Mayor

    and council-members of the City of Manteca, CA –

    “I __________ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties upon which I am about to enter.”

    So…if that’s standard for ALL California communities, those members proposing this monument

    are guilty of NOT only not doing their jobs, but also guilty of violating the very oath they took when

    they began those jobs.

    And somebody should loudly call them out on this – especially if that can be done at a public

    council meeting with the press there.

  • slc1

    The community of Lake Elsinore has a long history of aberrant behavior. Back in the 1950s, a local television station in Tinseltown had a series of news programs on antisemitism emanating out of there.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    slc1 “The community of Lake Elsinore has a long history of aberrant behavior.”

    Lake Elsinore? Lake Elsinore, with Elsinore Brewery, Lake Elsinore?

  • marcus

    Michael Heath “I think it’s pretty frickin’ obvious this group isn’t motivated to honor veterans. Instead they appear to be leveraging the respect veterans get in order to promote Christianism.”

    This.

    “Pretty frickin’ obvious” but well and succinctly put.

    “Won’t someone think of the vetrunz?!?11!!”

  • raven

    I’d never even heard of Lake Elsinore and looked it up on Google.

    It’s not in Orange county but next to it in Riverside county.

    Darrell Issa is the US Representative. Sigh, explains everything.

    Odd factoid. Issa has a history of brushes with the law and a conviction or two.