Mojave Cross Stolen

The Mojave cross at the center of the recent Salazar v. Buono Supreme Court decision has been stolen:

The National Park Service confirmed that the seven-foot high symbol had been ripped down sometime on Sunday or Monday by thieves who cut through bolts attaching it to Sunrise Rock in the Mojave National Preserve.

Park Service spokeswoman Linda Slater told AFP that authorities in California had kept the cross covered up with a wooden box during a long-running lawsuit where activists had sought to have it removed.

“It was reported that the box had been removed on Saturday. When they went out there on Monday to replace the cover, the cross was gone,” Slater said.

I’m hoping atheists weren’t responsible for this…

The cross shouldn’t be there but this isn’t the way to remedy the situation.

Commenter Mike points out below that, since the Supreme Court ruled that the cross was not a religious symbol, at least no one will be charge with a hate crime against Christianity :)

  • Yeonghoon Joung

    Yes this gives us a bad name – though it would pale in comparison to what the religious did, but the bottom line is that we’re not religious and I refuse to associate myself with those lacking the insight as to prevent themselves from playing the dirty way.

  • http://smalldogbigstick.blogspot.com Brittany

    It doesn’t matter right now if it was stolen by atheists or not. You know atheists will be blamed for it, anyway.

  • Sue D. Nymme

    I hope it gets repeatedly stolen, over and over again, forever.

    The cross IS vandalism. Stealing it is the equivalent of erasing graffiti.

  • http://primesequence.blogspot.com/ PrimeNumbers

    Not the right way to solve the problem. I wonder who did it?

    I think though, given the wrong and obviously biassed decision by some of the judges in the case, that I can fully understand the frustration for the cross still being there.

  • http://reanhouse.blogspot.com Sarah

    I hope it wasn’t atheists/agnostics et al. That would be playing right into the Religious Right’s hands. Here’s to hoping it’s some kids playing a prank, a christian who actually understands the 1st Amendment or some other religious group who’s offended that their dead are represented by a christian symbol.

  • Mike

    So in light of the Supreme Court ruling that this is not a religious symbol, the Govt would not be able to charge that this was a hate crime against Christians?

  • Seeker

    Well, it’s far more likely that it was done by theists. Trying to make atheists seem bad so that the judges will decide against them.
    Playing the victim to gain sympathy is a tried and true tactic.

  • http://primesequence.blogspot.com/ PrimeNumbers

    Mike, I’m sure they’d want their cake and to eat it! Being there, it’s obviously not a religious symbol, but as soon as it’s removed, I’m sure it’s back to being a Christian cross and all that that implies.

  • http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100426/ap_on_re_as/as_taiwan_earthquake_3 DGKnipfer

    Mike is right. The court ruled that the cross is not a religious symbol, so this cannot be ruled a religious crime.

  • Frank

    To all of you who say this wans’t the right way to handle it, I have to ask, what was? I’m all for resolving conflicts peacefully through the legal system where possible, but that was tried in this case, and it didn’t work. And when the legal system fails, might there be a point at which action outside the legal system becomes necessary? I’m not saying taking the cross was right in this case, but to say that this isn’t the right way to handle it when the right way doesn’t work seems very empty.

  • http://www.frommormontoatheist.blogspot.com Leilani

    Stealing is wrong. Period.

    I am all for civil disobedience, but I have to agree that, as ugly as the stupid thing was, this wasn’t the way to solve the problem.

    I hope it wasn’t an Atheist. Beating down nativity scenes and stealing crosses isn’t the way to make headway with the religious.

  • Ted

    Actually, it *IS* the way to fix the situation. The fucking thing is gone, is it not?

  • angrymonkey

    Okay, am I the only one here who thinks the controversy over this cross is insane? I strongly support the separation of church an state. I thought getting rid of the national day of prayer was a good move. However taking down an eighty year old monument seems ridiculous.

    I’m curious how this is different from the Taliban knocking down the statues of Buddha a few years ago. True the monuments are on a different scale, both artistically and historically, but it is still destroying a piece of history.

    I can fully support protesting publicly funding new memorials that overtly support a religious agenda. However I it leaves a bad taste in my mouth watching people tear down (either with lawyers or hacksaws), a monument dedicated to the soldiers of WW1.

  • http://www.atheist-experience.com Matt Dillahunty

    Yes, it’s gone…and it’ll be replaced by a bigger one that is protected by the law. That along with the mountain of press that this will generate is why this was the wrong way to handle it.

  • 10plus

    We can’t win- if atheists did steal it, that’ll just play right into religious peoples’ stereotypes- what do you expect… we have no morals, we’re god-haters, etc. But if it comes out that religious folks were responsible for the theft- well, they’re not like the rest of us [Christians]; if they call themselves Christians, then either they’re not true Christians or they’re not acting like it, and you can’t paint us all with the same brush, etc. etc.

  • ImmortalityLTD

    What are they so upset about? The guy they nailed to it disappeared after 3 days, too.

  • http://www.dankoleary.com Dan

    EPIC FAIL! the plan was to replace it with the crescent moon, not just take it down.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    It wasn’t stolen. It was liberated. Somewhere in the Mojave National Preserve a cross runs free, no longer the slave to Christian superstition.

  • flatlander100

    Leilani has it right. It was theft or vandalism, plain and simple, and whoever did it… believer, non-believer, pastafarian or snake chunker… will I hope be caught and punished as the law provides.

  • cypressgreen

    @Hoverfrog: yes, free to caper, skip and mate with others of it’s kind!
    I believe that’s where rosary crucifixes come from.

  • Ubi Dubium

    Taking it is definitely the wrong solution. We should ADD, not subtract. It needed to be joined by a star of David, a Crescent, a Pentacle, and a very reverently placed statue of His Noodliness.

  • teejay

    Vigilante justice, whether it be stealing illegal crosses or killing someone for rape, is still against the law.

  • Richard Wade

    Actually, it *IS* the way to fix the situation. The fucking thing is gone, is it not?

    It’s gone until the National Park Service spends taxpayer money to put up another one, at 2010 prices instead of 1930′s prices. And it will probably be larger and made of reinforced concrete, sunk deep into the rock.

    If the replacement gets vandalized, you and I will then be paying for a tall fence around the whole outcropping, topped with razor wire and “NO TRESPASSING” signs all over it. What a picturesque addition to the desert vista that will be.

    If that still gets vandalized, we can all look forward to a tax bill to pay for tall poles with security cameras and floodlights. The place will start to look like a fricking science fiction top security government compound. You’ll be able to see the sky glow from the highway 20 miles away on your way back from Vegas, if you were able to save enough gas money.

    And if that still doesn’t deter the Ninja Superspy Cross Destruction A-Team, then we, the taxpayers will be paying a fortune for a permanent camp of dozens of armed National Guard troops patrolling 24 hours a day to protect that bullshit cross. They’ll name it Fort Scalia. Don’t drive down that road. The helicopters will spot you. You’ll be stopped and questioned at gunpoint, and turned back before you even get a glimpse of the torture device that was turned into a symbol of our honored dead.

    Eventually it will acquire such a mystique that Al Queda will plot to target it as if it’s an important part of our nation’s self image and morale, as important as the Statue of Liberty or the Hollywood sign. Antiaircraft rocket installations will be scattered around the Mojave Desert, ready to shoot down any aircraft straying into what will be designated as a no fly zone.

    All probably because of two drunk teenagers with a hacksaw.

  • http://politicalcartel.org David

    The whole cross issue was 100% symbolic from the start – nobody really ever had to look at it. Whoever stole the cross made a severe error in the symbolic battle here.

  • cypressgreen

    @Flatlander: As you say, yes, “It was theft or vandalism, plain and simple.”

    However, as an act of theft it hurt no individual’s or company’s property, and in fact the act adds to the natural beauty of the area where it stood.

    (And I really don’t care about whoever it was that paid to put up this latest incarnantion. They obviously knew it was wrong but did so anyway, safe in the knowledge that the christian majority would approve. I think the fact that this one was metal, and bolted in place, rather than the original wooden ones says something.)

  • Jon

    But is it theft or is it a conscientious citizen removing litter from the environment? After all someone who removed a cigarette packet from the Mojave would be seen in a positive light except by those who want cigarette packets lying around. The only difference between those who think it OK to leave cigarette packets lying around and those who think it’s OK to leave crosses lying around is numbers – and as the religious are fond of saying – it’s not a numbers game.

    Just an idle thought.

  • http://NoYourGod.blogspot.com NoYourGod

    @Frank – there is a major weakness in your argument. We ARE a nation of laws. For better or worse, the courts (somehow) ruled that the cross was not a religious symbol and should be allowed to stay.

    Imagine if one of the more whacked-out teabaggers decides that you have a point – but in this case, he feels the courts ruled incorrectly on President Obama’s eligibility for office…. Well, using your logic, that whacko is justified in removing the errant office-holder from office.

    It should not have been stolen. My guess – religious folks removed the box to show their faith, then atheists removed the cross in return/retaliation. Nobody wins.

  • Jim T

    Do like the Nazi’s and blame the Jews.

    Actually,
    Not a good idea, Next one will have Neon lights.

  • Richard P.

    “I will then be paying for a tall fence around the whole outcropping, topped with razor wire and “NO TRESPASSING” signs all over it. What a picturesque addition to the desert vista that will be.”

    Well, actually, then it would be more like a war memorial. Say a depiction on prisoner of war camps. It would fit perfectly to represent the holocaust with the catholic German Nazi’s standing over head.

    Good Idea Richard.

  • Vas

    Fine so the cross is now gone and someone will want to erect a new one. Alright I’m fine with that, so get on with it. First I would expect to see a full EIR on the site, along with requite public comments. also if security measures such as Richard describes are needed I will expect to see full EIRs for them as well. They used the law to keep the cross there and now that some unknown person or persons have removed the cross the replacement cross will need to meet certain legal criteria. You can’t just erect things in sensitive environments without proper permits and those require EIRs. You may not agree with the unauthorized removal of the cross but I would hope that you all would also be against the unauthorized replacement of the cross without a proper EIR, public comment period, proper engineering, proper permits fees and inspections.
    This has now become about the protection of our sensitive desert environment, they have already defaced the rocks by drilling holes and setting bolts, let’s be sure this type of thing stops here.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    We can rationalize this any way we want, but stealing is (usually) wrong and it is a crime. In this case, I would assume it’s a felony. I don’t see it as counterproductive to take the moral (and/or legal)high ground.

  • SpencerDub

    Damn it, I just know how the religious right is going to spin it.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    It was probably stolen by one of the following:

    Godless (God hating) atheist,
    Christ killing Jew,
    Devil worshiping Wiccan,
    Native American (devil worshiping) Animist,
    Islamic (in league with devil) terrorist,
    Rebelling (God forsaken) teenager

    Or it was removed by a God revering Christian doing it to make one of the above groups look bad.

    I guess whoever did it didn’t get the memo that the (formally Christian) cross is no longer a religious symbol and there is no longer any reason to get concerned over its presence or removal.

    On the other hand, vandalism is vandalism and should be punished accordingly.

  • Edmond

    God did it.

  • JulietEcho

    I don’t think they’ll be dumb enough to put up another cross in its place. The long, labored justification involved in this case included a convoluted array of topics, including the concepts of private land, historical value, the fact that the government didn’t build it but rather made an existed structure an official monument, etc. If they build a brand new cross, historical value is out the window. And they can’t build one on government land – or at least they’d be wise not to, given that they’d be facing more lawsuits.

    There was already a 2004 ruling, as Stevens pointed out in the dissent, that shot down the argument that the cross could be erected on government ground due to its dual nature as a somehow religion-neutral memorial and as a Christian symbol.

    Apart from ethical concerns, if I lived in the area I’ll admit I’d be a bit grateful, not having to drive past such a morbid, alienating eyesore all the time.

  • AAA

    Seems like a bunch of nonsense to me. The cross is unchangeably a symbol of Christianity – not a secular symbol. If it was a crescent, there would be nothing left there – granted that the court has ruled that the cross is on public ground. Also, if I remember correctly, the court didn’t decide that the cross was okay – it decided the transaction to make it private property was not – and delegated the final decision to a lower court…whether the lower courts consider its earlier presence there constitutional is still in the air…Don’t know why it was stolen yet, the decision still hasn’t been made…

  • muggle

    Damn, damn, damn. This is so going to be used to point fingers and cry Atheists, Atheists, Atheists! For that reason alone, this was a really bad idea.

    (Unless, of course, the first finger pointer is also the thief which wouldn’t surprise me at all.)

  • Maury

    I think the solution is to demand that their be an even BIGGER monument erected to the Flying Spaghetti Monster as a tribute to all those who fought and died in the civil war to save the world the FSM created.

    Or perhaps a giant statue of Muhammed as a tribute to all the muslims who died in the crusades.

    The trick isn’t to tear it down, it is to make sure that every other religion has at least an equal display on PUBLIC property right next to the cross.

    Having various ridiculous beliefs all given equal prominence certainly diminishes the idea that there is one true religion…

  • JackO

    You all remind me of the Taliban, tearing down the symbols of a Religion you don’t believe in. How dare you, any of you, defend what was done. Have you no shame? No respect for the law?

  • Chris

    There it is. Been waiting for it all day.

    Comments from the troll aside, sometimes the law just doesn’t get it right. What is the right answer when the king demands taxation without representation? When the state declares human beings of a certain color to be property? Or denies women the right to an education?

    Two wrongs don’t make a right, and it seems to me the right answer in this case would have been to demand the FSM/Star of David/Crescent/etc/etc/etc monuments side by side that cross to appropriately pay homage to the non-christian WWI vets who made the ultimate sacrifice. That request would have been seen as so f-ing ridiculous that maybe…just maybe…lawmakers would be willing to put up a respectful NON-RELIGIOUS memorial to those brave Soldiers, Sailors and Marines.

  • Vas

    Oh how dare anyone have an opinion or defend anything that you don’t believe in JackO. Your are correct no one with a different interpretation of an event has any shame and has no respect for the law, which is always 100% correct, always. Atheists ARE the new Taliban… what a smart and insightful observation. Oh JackO you are so persuasive I will now campaign to have a cross erected in every park in my town, to honer real Americans.

    *Face Palm*

    (Um Jack just for the record I don’t think anyone on this forum tore down the cross, just saying, and anyway comparing some welded pipe, (not the original object or even a reconstruction of it) to an ancient statue is kind of stretching it a bit anyway)

  • Eliza

    Seriously – how do they know their god didn’t simply whisk it away???

  • fastthumbs

    Maybe it was a stray Mongolian death worm that ate it?

    “Deep in the outer desert of Mongolia [...] a nest of these deadly mythical creatures is disturbed by an American oil company looking to tap into the area’s natural resources. Newly awake, these segmented monsters begin to breed and spread, sucking up anything (and anyone) that gets in their way.”

    see:

    http://tv.yahoo.com/blog/sean-patrick-flanery-seeks-treasure-in-syfys-mongolian-death-worms–1216

  • Staceyjw

    LOL- I bet it was a few drunken teens, sounds like something I would have done when I was 16 (yes, I was a little law breaker).

    It doesn’t matter who really did the stealing, xtians will hate on atheists regardless. They don’t need a reason, it hardly makes a difference if they have one! (I doubt it was an angry atheist anyway.)

    Also-
    Is there a term like “Godwin” for people that mention the Taliban all the time, anytime they disagree? If not, there should be………….

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ WMDKitty

    Good RIDDANCE.

  • Jen

    If I were a Christian (and also a jerk) I would remove it to blame others.

    Stupid thing was ugly, by the way. No one should have taken it, but it sure was ugly.

  • stogoe

    I find myself glad that it was removed. As for the vandal, pay the fine, whatever. Civil disobedience means being prepared to face the punishment. As the decision was handed down by avowed christian theocrats, I hope any replacement crosses keep being removed until a suitable non-sectarian replacement memorial can be agreed upon.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    EPIC FAIL! the plan was to replace it with the crescent moon, not just take it down.

    Well, it is gone now, so why not replace it with a crescent? naturally, this crescent would not be intended as a sectarian religious symbol, but as a memorial to the war dead. Therefore anyone descrating or disrespecting the crescent would be personally insulting the veterans it commemorates.

    I might be willing to donate to such a cause.

  • Alex

    I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately on the history of freethinkers in America. As far as I can tell nonbelievers have been involved in political issues from day one, always defended freedom and individual rights, and always ended up being vilified by everyone else in the end. When I am treated like a child, I tend to act like one. I don’t know who took down the cross but if it was an atheist, I’d understand. Since we will always end up getting blamed for everything that is wrong in the universe anyway, might as well get something for it. I’m growing very, very tired of the ‘mind your manners, the Christians are watching’ BS.

  • http://roorback.com Aidan Cole

    While everyone unbunches their panties, I have a few ideas as to how the vacant space could be used: Throw The Mojave Tea Party. Step One: Advertise Tea Party Convention in Undisclosed Location. Step Two: Disclose Location to Fox News. Step Three: When they come in droves, shoot them all for trespassing. Step Four: Enjoy the silence with a cup of Earl Grey.

  • Mike

    Based on Salazar v. Buono, it sounds like the US Govt was trying to sell an acre of land to a private entity (VFW) to escape the establishment clause. The SCOTUS approved the transfer of land, and in doing so affirmed that “The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement [of religion] does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm”. I don’t know if the land transfer went forth yet, but the claims of the VFW that this occurred on federal land seem disingenuous. Is there a Constitutional lawyer on this forum that could weigh in on the plan to transfer the land and plans to build another cross (now that the first has been pulled down, I don’t know if Salazar v. Buono is applicable in the protection of a sectarian symbol [I think that it was originally a private memorial that because it was then acquired by federal lands may have saved it at the SCOTUS level])?

  • http://smalldogbigstick.blogspot.com Brittany

    @Richard Wade

    It’ll be just like the Hollywood sign. You get too close, and some random guard will tell you that you’re too close and to turn back from some seemingly invisible PA System.

  • MN Freethinker

    Wouldn’t it be a nice gesture if they replaced the cross with an actual memorial to our fallen troops? Maybe a nice tank, or cannon or statute of a soldier? Perhaps that would appease all sides?

  • Aguz

    Well, whoever did this has just started a flamewar of epic proportions, congratulations. *not amused* ¬_¬
    But the thing about this not been a hate crime because of the courts rule? Hilarious detail or indeed amusing to say at least.

  • Brian Macker

    How can you steal property that has been abandoned in a public place? Obviously there is no owner looking for it. If there is an owner and he’s storing it there he should be charged rent.

  • Aj

    It might have been against the law, but it wasn’t the wrong thing to do. The wrong in this was the people who erected the cross and the corrupt judges that lied about it not being a religious symbol. Some atheists don’t seem to give a shit about what’s right, just what’s strategically the best course of action to be the best brown noses to Christians.

  • http://www.OklahomaAtheists.com DAMION

    The whole idea behind civil disobedience is to deliberately break *unjust* laws. All of the comments about obeying the law for its own sake seem to miss this vital point. If it is unjust to use taxpayer money to support religion, then we need to evaluate the morality of civil disobedience in a consequentialist moral framework which does not presuppose the immorality of breaking the law.

  • autumn

    i think it was stupid to take the cross , it wasnt ment as a religouse symbol but as a monument for people who died in our wars, the whole court case is stupid.

  • http://thedaysword6.blogspot.com Sir Bikes A Lot

    I just heard about how there’s a new cross at the site. I bet it’s Bigger :p.

    Please don’t try to convince an Atheist that there is an after life, they’ll find out when they die.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/may/21/cross-replaced-in-memorial-mystery/

    http://thedaysword6.blogspot.com/2010/05/tolerance-by-atheist-required.html