Updates on the Stolen Mojave Cross Memorial

The Mojave Cross was stolen last week and we still don’t know who did it.

Someone claims to know who did it and sent a letter to the Desert Dispatch on behalf of the thief.

Among the many points made in the letter:

1. The cross in question was not vandalized. It was simply moved. This was done lovingly and with great care.

11. Despite what many people are saying, this act was definitively not anti-Christian. It was instead anti-discrimination. If this act was anti-Christian, the cross would not have been cared for so reverently. An anti-Christian response would have been to simply destroy the cross and leave the pieces in the desert.

13. If an appropriate and permanent non-sectarian memorial is placed at the site the cross will be immediately returned to [the person who originally erected the cross] Mr. [Henry] Sandoz.

I don’t care that the cross should never have been put there in the first place. If it’s an atheist doing this, he doing something wrong — this isn’t the way he should be going about the situation. (Though I know some of you disagree.)

Atheist Alliance International is doing something positive about all this, though.

First, they condemned the thief’s actions:

“Damaging and the taking of another’s property is, of course, reprehensible behavior and not to be condoned,” stated AAI president Stuart Bechman. “AAI certainly condemns that action.”

They also offered to raise $5,000 for a new (all-inclusive) memorial if the old one were to be replaced:

“However, given the controversial nature of this memorial and the tens of thousands of dollars spent in court, we call on all parties to take this unexpected opportunity to consider replacing the monument with a more-inclusive memorial that all Americans can support, and to place that memorial in a more appropriate place that reflects on the soldiers for whom the memorial is to honor.”

Atheist Alliance International pledges to raise $5,000 towards an effort to replace the missing memorial with a new memorial that doesn’t raise First Amendment issues and that would be relocated to a private site within urban boundaries that has some connection to either the war or the soldiers that died in it.

It’s a smart move by AAI and a generous offer — strategic, too, considering I doubt it’ll be taken up.

(via LA Atheism Examiner)

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

    Brilliant move by AAI. I’m also glad that a large number of atheists are condemning the theft on principle.

  • SalmonOfDoubt

    And the intellectual division begins, between the public, “incorporated” atheist spheres and the rest of us, who are less concerned about saving face and more concerned about equal rights.

    I think that many atheists are far too concerned about how the religious public views them.

  • Richard P.

    Each man must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified and excusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may.

    Mark Twain

  • Alex

    So we’re speaking of the thief with masculine pronouns?

  • Aj

    You can make blanket statements about “taking of another’s property” but that’s asinine and obtuse. There are many situations where it’s not only morally permissible to take another’s property but where there’s a moral obligation to do so. That kind of statement can only come from an ethically and intellectually shallow consideration.

    Breaking the law isn’t wrong in and of itself. Laws themselves can be wrong, and breaking them is the only right thing to do. If someone uses the law as an argument, e.g. “but they did break the law”, for what’s right and wrong, they’re not participants in morality at all.

    It’s not anti-Christian to dispose of evidence of a crime, it’s logical. It’s not anti-Christian to not care what happens to a cross. However, I’m anti-Christian(ity) so if they wanted to send an anti-Christian message I wouldn’t have minded.

    None of the atheists criticizing this seem to care what religious people think of us when we support gay marriage but when we fight against discrimination against ourselves some of us don’t seem willing to walk up to the plate. Some atheists seem to be too close to religious people to act against all religious wrongs, they only care to act against the wrongs of some religions that fall outside their political sphere.

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

    @SalmonOfDoubt,
    You’re setting up a false dichotomy and a straw man in one fell swoop.
    As far as concern about how the religious public views us, it is the religious public that are our neighbors, friends, family, coworkers, etc.
    I’m interested in presenting as positive a face as possible for many reasons, none of which is fear or appeasement. Of course, that is what you were implying. No matter. I don’t give a damn what you think of me.
    There are times when folks must stand and fight. There absolutely are times when it is a good idea to violate unjust laws. Conversely,there are situations in which it is best to patiently wait for the slow wheels of justice to turn. Being able to distinguish between those scenarios requires intelligence and maturity. Neither of those qualities, unfortunately, are prerequisites for being an atheist.

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

    @Aj,

    “some of us don’t seem willing to walk up to the plate.”

    Well, then…why don’t you tell me what felonies you’ve committed recently in the name of atheism?
    And since you’ve thrown down the gauntlet with this statement:

    “ethically and intellectually shallow consideration”

    If you cannot distinguish between the overt oppression of gays and a fucking cross in the desert then I’d say you are lacking in some fundamental and crucial abilities. That cross was an annoyance, but it wasn’t killing anyone. It didn’t deny anyone health care. It didn’t cause someone to lose their job. It didn’t prevent anyone from visiting a same sex partner in the hospital. No income was lost, no proms were missed. It was an annoying symbol. That’s it.
    Get real.

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

    @Alex,
    My money is on a guy doing this. Most women aren’t that stupid.

  • Aj

    The Godless Monster,

    a) Nothing is committed in “the name of atheism”, and if I did commit any felonies I wouldn’t be telling you. Atheism is a lack of belief in any gods.

    b) I’m pretty sure I didn’t imply you couldn’t distinguish between those injustices and the cross.

    c) Not calling civil unions with equal rights “marriages” didn’t do anything you mentioned. Hell, some of those things have nothing to do with anything I wrote.

    d) That something is also wrong, and does more harm, does not make an unconnected thing not wrong by proportional comparison.

    e) If you think symbols don’t matter you are severely mistaken. If you think a ruling that states a cross is not a religious symbol then you are dead wrong.

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

    @Aj,
    a)When I’m done with this response I’ll go eat a sandwich and declare that I did it in the name of atheism. If I want to brush my teeth or write a letter or sing a song in the name of atheism, I can do all that, too. What atheism IS has nothing whatsoever to do with what I can or cannot do in it’s name. A complete nonsense argument. You’re making this stuff up as you go along.
    b) No, you implied that YOU couldn’t distinguish between the two.
    c)You brought up gay marriage, not me. Backpedaling after the fact doesn’t help your argument.
    d)That’s right. And…what’s your point? Show me exactly where I wrote that.
    e)Symbols do matter, just (sometimes) not enough for me to justify bypassing the justice system in order to make my point.
    Suggested reading: Introduction to Logic, by Copi & Cohen

  • nankay

    I’m not sure the religious will take up the offer. It looks awfully suspicious. Cross that atheist group fought to remove is now missing. Atheist group says, “Gee we’re against stealing! Naughty! BUT, being as it’s gone, here’s money to replace it with something else.” If I were Xian, I would raise a cynical eyebrow.

  • Unspeakably Violent Jane

    Standing ovation for AJ.

    To those of you who pander to our failing justice system – is your morality really so flimsy that you cannot discern corruption in authority? And do you really think that attempting to placate that corrupt authority is the righteous path?

  • Mike

    If a privately erected cross was left on public land, how would it differ in legality from someone dumping a piece of scrap metal on public land?

    Wouldn’t that be considered abandonment? I know I couldn’t just leave a giant metal “A” on the side of the road without someone coming along to salvage it for scrap metal.

    In fact, I think if they could trace the “A” to me, I’d get fined for illegal dumping.

  • Aj

    The Godless Monster,

    a) You can declare whatever the fuck you want, you can’t do anything “in the name of atheism” because atheism doesn’t motivate action, it’s a lack of belief in god. To say that a lack of belief in something motivates you to do anything is nonsense.

    b) I did not even remotely make any statement on the equivalence of importance or harm between the cross and the injustices you stated. Please show me exactly where you think I did.

    c) I did bring up gay marriage. I’m not backpedaling, I can’t help that you’re ignorant. Not having gay marriage doesn’t stop people visiting their partner in hospital in places with civil unions. Not having gay marriage never stopped anyone from going to the prom. Not having gay marriage never lost someone their job, killed someone, or stopped someone from getting healthcare.

    d) You replied with how different oppression of gays and the cross are under a quotation from me that in turn was replying to a statement made about how wrong it was to take the cross. I didn’t realize you were in the habit of randomly quoting sentences unconnected to the contiguous paragraphs you make. I mistakenly thought you were replying to quote, not that it was merely decoration to your comment.

    e) Well fuck you. Wait, I mean I don’t need your justification to find things important. Also, if people came out and said “I don’t care about the cross, it’s not important”, I wouldn’t care to argue with them.

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

    @Aj,

    “e) Well fuck you.”

    Naw, you wouldn’t like it. I’d just lay there and sweat.

  • ihedenius

    The christians will never accept. I don’t think they should. Regardless of who took the cross it would send a signal “break the law to get what you want”. I’m sure there are times then breaking the law is the right thing to do. This is so very far from that for the reasons godless-monster listed.
    I don’t think it was clever of AAI to make that offer either.

  • muggle

    nankay, you beat me to it. I’m not Xian but I sure am mighty suspicious. If they had left it at condemning the theft, I wouldn’t be but that offering to replace it with something more suitable was mighty suspicious.

    If Atheists circumvent the law, we have become what we hate. It’s got nothing to do with appeasing Christians. It does, however, have to do with acknowledging that we live in a society, not anarchy.

    Not having gay marriage doesn’t stop people visiting their partner in hospital in places with civil unions. Not having gay marriage never stopped anyone from going to the prom. Not having gay marriage never lost someone their job, killed someone, or stopped someone from getting healthcare.

    And you’re daring to call Godless ignorant? Not having gay marriage has done exactly all of the above. Well, unless you stretch it and add as long as they were passing as straight. So how do you feel about passing as a majority? In reading your posts, you hardly seem to want to dangle a cross around your neck to fool people but you are really deaf, dumb and blind if you don’t realize gays have suffered all these injustices and that’s why they’re fighting to have their relationships normalized.

  • Unspeakably Violent Jane

    >If Atheists circumvent the law, we have become what we hate

    What I hate are Uncle Toms.

  • Baconsbud

    You beat me to it in regards to AJ’s line there. How many even today are passing as straight just so they can have what appears as a normal life?

    I also see the money offer as something shady. It’s almost like they are saying they feel guilty. I don’t really know the history of the cross but I don’t see any real reason for it to be replaced with anything.

  • ihedenius

    If Atheists circumvent the law, we have become what we hate. It’s got nothing to do with appeasing Christians. It does, however, have to do with acknowledging that we live in a society, not anarchy.

    Amen … or something.

  • Unspeakably Violent Jane

    nankay, at what point should the Cambodians defied the laws of Pol Pot.

    Protip: Long before the killing.

  • Aj

    muggle,

    And you’re daring to call Godless ignorant? Not having gay marriage has done exactly all of the above.

    a) Compared to civil unions with equal rights? The difference is only symbolic. That’s my point, they’re not campaigning for separate but equal civil unions, or to make existing civil unions equal. I’m not saying it’s not right to want marriage, it’s just symbolic.

    b) I don’t see the relationship between gay marriage and the loss of a job, death, or a prom. Please give examples. Has anyone been denied the right to visit their partner because they were gay in a place with civil unions? The only case I’ve heard of turned out to be somewhat misrepresented.

  • Rarian Rakista

    Marriage is a religious right, we should be fighting for freedom of religion as well as freedom from it. In our minds they may be the one and the same but to 90% of the people out there, if you don’t make such demands explicit they are going to be left angry and confused, which is what many religious gays and lesbians feel like. Why shouldn’t clerics be allowed to perform religious ceremonies just because they are doing it with folks that fancy their own sex.

  • Heidi

    @Aj: The difference is NOT just symbolic. Please check your “facts.”

    from http://www.legal-database.com/civil-union-marriage.htm

    Besides the emotional component of simply being “married,” there are quite a few legal differences between the two statuses, primarily that civil unions are only recognized in the state in which they are performed, while marriages are recognized in all 50 states. Because civil unions are recognized only in the state performed, civil unions do not get any federal protections. Moreover, if a same-sex couple were recognized in a civil union in Vermont, they would not be recognized in Texas, while a marriage in one state is recognized in all states.

    Also, with a civil union, if the couple wants it dissolved, they must get it dissolved in the state it was conducted. For instance, in Vermont, civil unions can only be dissolved in Vermont and one of the partners must have been a resident of the state to get it dissolved. On the other hand, a married couple can get a divorce in any of the fifty states.

    Moreover, civil unions – because they are not recognized by the federal government – do not gain any of the tax breaks that married couples get, such as the ability to file their taxes jointly. In all, there are over 1,000 benefits and protections afforded to married couples by the federal government that civil unions do not get.

  • Aj

    Heidi,

    @Aj: The difference is NOT just symbolic. Please check your “facts.”

    Campaign for federally recognised civil unions with equal rights? It seems as if you think that civil unions are in principle legally different, but that’s not the case. Also, gay marriages aren’t recognised everywhere, and are not recognised federally, or am I mistaken? Therefore the same problem exists even if there was gay marriage.

  • Heidi

    It seems as if you think that civil unions are in principle legally different, but that’s not the case.

    Yes, that is the case. First of all, separate is never equal. “Equal” civil unions serve no other purpose than to say “these people are not really equal.” Why make up a completely different name for something exactly the same, unless you’re saying they’re not really the same?

    If you show up in a hospital ER with papers saying “I am this person’s civil union partner” you are not going to get the same reaction/treatment as you will get if you just say “that is my husband/wife.”

    Further, civil unions do not establish the legal kinship/familial connection that marriage does.

    Also, if there is no difference other than symbolic, why do heterosexual people need to get married? We don’t we just get civil unions and legal partnerships?

    Anyway, I’m not going to agree with you on this, so once our respective positions are adequately stated (and I feel mine has been), we should probably just let it go.

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

    @Unspeakably Violent Jane,
    Way off topic..love your moniker…
    and Muggle’s no Uncle Tom…she’s good people.

  • Aj

    Heidi,

    Yes, that is the case. First of all, separate is never equal. “Equal” civil unions serve no other purpose than to say “these people are not really equal.” Why make up a completely different name for something exactly the same, unless you’re saying they’re not really the same?

    Legally they can be same. Symbolically, they’re saying they’re not really the same. Which is my point, the cross is symbolic, it’s important. I understand that homosexuals find the word marriage important.

    If you show up in a hospital ER with papers saying “I am this person’s civil union partner” you are not going to get the same reaction/treatment as you will get if you just say “that is my husband/wife.”

    I doubt that very much. If a man comes in and says “I am this person’s husband” he may not get the same reaction/treatment. I don’t think people would make that distinction.

    Further, civil unions do not establish the legal kinship/familial connection that marriage does.

    That’s not necessarily true in principle. I don’t think that’s true for all civil unions/partnerships in practice either.

    Also, if there is no difference other than symbolic, why do heterosexual people need to get married? We don’t we just get civil unions and legal partnerships?

    I have advocated that on this blog for a while. I think everyone should be able to get a civil union, and let individuals decide what’s marriage and what is not.

  • dartigen

    IMO, while stealing it wasn’t the *best* choice of action, good on AAI for subverting it so well.

    @Alex English has no gender-neutral pronouns – some people try to use ‘sie’ as a possible gender-neutral pronoun to be included in English, but it doesn’t really work. ‘It’ is gender neutral, but implies that the subject is inanimate. ‘He’ is grammatically correct when referring to a person of unknown gender in English.

  • Justice Has No God

    The taking of the cross was an act of vandalism and larceny; illegal and inappropriate behavior for any individual who fashions themselves an upstanding citizen. That memorial is a legitimate expression of free speech and should be returned immediately. If discovered before its return, its taker should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I feel that the offer made by AAI is quite generous, however, on some level, may not be as strategically sound as it would first appear. In a way, this looks like subversive undermining of the court ruling: offering money for a replacement that suits your organizations outlooks (thus furthering your agenda) through a windfall opportunity created by an outlier from the same philosophical ideology. I’m not saying that’s their goal here, I would just suggest that if the offer is refused it may be using those grounds. Bottom line, the just course of action here is that the sign be returned.

  • Richard Wade

    13. If an appropriate and permanent non-sectarian memorial is placed at the site the cross will be immediately returned to [the person who originally erected the cross] Mr. [Henry] Sandoz.

    So they’re holding the cross as a hostage to force (the government?) to meet their demands. Whoever this is, is a complete idiot.

    scary ransom note

  • muggle

    Thanks, Godless. I’m getting real tired of the anti-theist notion that unless we go to war against the religious, we are sucking up to them. No we are living and let live as long as they do likewise. That’s what everyone should do.

    I’m damned if I’ll condemn people for intolerance and violations of religious freedom by being intolerant myself and denying theists their religious freedom. What do I care if they talk to their imaginary friend as long as they don’t try to force it on me.

    It’d be wrong even if we were the majority. It’s monumentally stupid when you’re as far from it as we are in the US.

    I like Gilbert O’Sullivan’s stance:

    “I’m a writer, not a fighter
    But if you came to burn my home
    I’d be out there on my own
    Fighting tooth and nail
    To keep you all at bay
    But don’t ask me to defend
    What I cannot comprehend
    That is violence simply for violence sake”

    In other words, live and let live until they don’t let you live in peace then freaking bloody damned well stand up for yourself.

    AJ, Heidi, beat me to it and your arguments against her very well written post don’t chance the basic truth that separate is never equal. The whole freaking term civil union was invented to prevent gay marriage which rather makes it discriminatory in and of itself.

    And marriage is not religious. I wish people would stop typecasting it as such simply because you can get married in a church if you so choose. I was married freaking long enough to know it wasn’t for me and religion had nothing to do with it even though he was Christian.

    Richard, I love it when you get creative! That note’s terrific!

  • Eskomo

    Marriage is not a religious right. One of the statements an officiant makes at the end of the ceremony is “… by the power vested in me by the state of …”. This shows that the state has granted permission to the officiant to perform a marriage. The marriage license was acquired by paying a fee at a governmental office. The license is filled out by the officiant and signed by the two getting married and returned to the governmental office. The same process can occur in front of a justice of the peace.

  • Alex

    No shit, dartigen. You’re really just defending the male universal.

  • Aj

    muggle,

    AJ, Heidi, beat me to it and your arguments against her very well written post don’t chance the basic truth that separate is never equal.

    In the UK and previously in Vermont civil unions granted the same rights and responsibilities as marriage. That’s a basic truth.

    The whole freaking term civil union was invented to prevent gay marriage which rather makes it discriminatory in and of itself.

    I agree, symbolically it is discriminatory in and of itself. Just as placing a cross on public land and calling it a non-religious symbol is establishing religion, therefore discriminating against the non-religious.

  • Richard

    As an atheist, I condemn the stealing of the Mojave cross. I think it is both morally wrong and bad for atheism, and I hope that the thief is not an atheist.


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