The Memorial Cross in Woonsocket Needs to Get Off Government Property

There’s a memorial in Woonsocket, Rhode Island dedicated to local veterans killed in World Wars I and II. It was built in 1921. It sits on government property. And it looks like this:

My first thought when I heard about the story was that it was similar to the 9/11 Cross and Seven in Heaven Way. Basically, it was a delicate issue. For a lot of people in the community, this was less a Christian symbol than a symbol of those who lost their lives in war. Any attempt to remove it would likely be seen as an insult to the veterans instead of a patriotic support of church/state separation. It wasn’t that atheists shouldn’t go after this Constitutional violation — we should — but we had to be very careful with how we approached them.

Now that I’ve seen how the town’s reacted, though, I’m less interested in being sensitive to their mindsets…

First, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter (PDF) to Mayor Leo Fontaine urging him to remove the cross, listing all sorts of reasons this was impermissible:

Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Market noted in FFRF’s letter that it’s illegal for the city to display “patently religious symbols and messages on city property.” The website impermissibly demonstrates a preference for religion over nonreligion. The Latin cross at the fire station demonstrates Woonsocket’s preference for Christianity over other religions and nonreligion. Such government endorsements of religion runs afoul of the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution.

Of course, the thought of moving the cross to a private location has everyone flipping out:

An estimated 1,500 people turned out Wednesday to defend a Rhode Island war memorial topped with a cross that has drawn a complaint from an atheist group.

The event was organized by the former head of the Rhode Island National Guard. Maj. Gen. Reginald Centracchio said the monument isn’t forcing religion on anyone.

“This is a war memorial. It’s part of our history. It’s a historical artifact. The line in the sand is right here. It stops here. My fear is if we don’t succeed here, the next step will be Exeter cemetery and after that, Arlington,” Centracchio said.

Of course, no one’s going after the religious emblems at Arlington — those are optional and the choice of the next-of-kin of the deceased. There are also a variety of symbols (including an atheist one) available. That’s a far cry from the Woonsocket Cross, which suggests that all the local war veterans were Christians. Even if they were, that’s still a symbol that ought to be placed in a church, not government property.

FFRF has the upper hand here, since they’re right and the city can’t afford a legal fight:

The Woonsocket Call reported April 23 that the city is exploring its options. “I have no intention of removing the cross under any circumstances,” the newspaper quoted Fontaine saying.

But, Fontaine said, it may be necessary to move the monument to private property. City Council President John Ward said the city, which is in dire financial straits, can’t afford a costly legal battle. “I would not vote to pay to defend it,” Ward said.

The city has set up a war memorial fund just in case they decide to defend themselves in the legal battle they’re going to lose, and Liberty Counsel (a Christian Right group) has offered to defend them for free.

Also, last week, FFRF’s Annie Laurie Gaylor appeared on FOX News with Mayor Fontaine to discuss the memorial cross:

Like most defenders of illegal religious artifacts, Fontaine’s defense is basically “It’s always been here, so that automatically makes it right.” Annie Laurie doesn’t let him get away with it and good for her on that.

(Incidentally, there’s one atheist group that claims to oppose FFRF’s efforts to remove the cross, but I’ve heard from my own sources that many members of that group don’t feel the same way.)

Ultimately, FFRF is right and the Mayor of Woonsocket needs to move the cross to private property. It’s an easy move and it saves the town the trouble of losing money in a lawsuit. Too bad the Christian citizens protesting against the Constitution can’t see that doing the right thing is in their best interest.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • gski

    I would like to see more instances of atheists joining with other religions against these christian symbolic statements.  State/church separation is not an atheist only issue.

    • gski

       … joining with other religions …  Oops, I know atheism is not a religion.

      • Ndonnan

        Ha,not yet anyway,oh and neither is Buddism

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-A-Anderson/100000016895400 John A. Anderson

    I’m for chosing our fights wisely, and I’d avoid this one. We’re only going to look like dicks.

    • Steve

       Right is right. The law is the law.  So we look like dicks to the poor persectuted christians.  Good.

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      By what criteria do you think the rest of us should choose our fights? If it offends somebody, we should avoid any confrontation? I’m sorry, but any pro-active act on the part of any atheist and/or secular organization will seem like an affront to somebody. You can’t avoid offending somebody when you confront people in this manner. I’m for defending our Constitution, no matter who is offended. If somebody is happening that is illegal and unconstitutional, I don’t care who’s butt-hurt by my actions: I’m fighting it.

  • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

    They could move it, or they could just sell that few square metres of land to a private war memorial trust set up for the purpose, solving the entire problem with a few minutes of paperwork.

    • Jeremy Davidson

      I’m not very familiar with the laws, but, say they did offer that small patch of land up for sale; could I then buy it, or would only christian groups be allowed to bid?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628665833 Bill Santagata

        No, it would have to be an open bidding process.

        In any event, doing a land transfer would not necessarily shield them from a lawsuit. The government couldn’t put up a sign saying “The City of Woonsocket is an officially Christian city” then just transferring the small plot of land it rests on to a private party. Such a land transfer needs to have a secular purpose. If it’s just a ruse so the government can continue to give off the impression that it is establishing a religion, the courts will see right through it and strike it down.

        That being said, the cross is constitutional as-is, no need to sell any land at all.

        • David B.

          But if the city is as cash-strapped as indicated, it might drum up some much needed funds. So why not turn a problem into an opportunity?

          Hell, why not have a chip-in to raise funds for a local atheist/humanist group to buy the land. If successful, they could just point out that the WW1/2 veterans it memorializes (if it does) swore to uphold the constitution, and died to defend it, so now the monument no longer violates that constitution (if it ever) they’re happy to leave it as it is.

          Making the point, without being a dick.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628665833 Bill Santagata

            Simply re-zoning and selling off the plot of land will not save them from a lawsuit…so they might as well defend it as it is, a suit they will win anyway (and they won’t have to pay any money.) The monument does not violate the Constitution.

            • David B.

              Do you give out lottery numbers too?

              • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628665833 Bill Santagata

                It’s not at all like the lottery. Judges don’t draw their decisions out of a hat. This is a cut-and-dry case that the City will win, and deservedly so.

                • Oz Tilson

                  Bill, you keep saying that the city deserves to and will win. Can you give any evidence for that position?

                • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628665833 Bill Santagata

                  I linked to my letter to the mayor in an earlier post.

  • Marguerite

    This photo instantly made me think of a similar monument in my area which stands on government property (Fort Story):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Henry_Memorial 

    http://www.nps.gov/came/index.htm 

    The current cross there dates from 1935. The difference is that the Cape Henry Memorial is supposedly memorializing a cross actually put up on that piece of land in 1607 by the first English settlers. That, I would tend to say, seems permissibly “historical.” It’s a cross put up to commemorate a cross that was once erected on that particular spot. The fact that it’s a religious symbol only echoes a fact of history.

    With regards to the RI cross, however, it seems that there’s nothing especially relevant about the spot where the cross stands. Just because it’s been there a long time doesn’t imbue it with any special historicity. Moving it to private land wouldn’t seem to change the nature of the monument or its meaning. And it would seem to be the right thing to do, Constitutionally speaking.

    • Providence

      “Just because it’s been there a long time doesn’t imbue it with any special historicity.”

      Actually, it does.   It was dedicated by their Commander at that spot:

       “To honor his memory, a memorial site was consecrated in Woonsocket. Place Jolicoeur, as it would come to be called was enshrined by Marshal Foch himself on a visit to Woonsocket on Nov. 13, 1921.”

      So you see, some of the meaning would be lost if it were to be moved to another location, or tampered with to fit the questionable aesthetics of some.   How callous and insenstive.

      Source:
      Daniel H. Trafford for the Woonsocket Call

      • Kodie

         How does the meaning get lost? Worship of a false idol? Tell me how clinging to a particular symbol makes the memorial more meaningful and less dedicated by the town to the soldiers named on it? Don’t they have their own markers at their own graves also? How is it callous and insensitive to the memory of the dead to remove a callous and insensitive symbol from a public memorial? I don’t feel any less respectful or less inclined to preserve the memory of fallen soldiers or veterans without a cross, so why is it important to preserve it with the cross intact on land that is public?

        • Providence

          It’s not the symbol, it’s taking the entire monument from it’s original location and moving it to another.   It’s a secular argument, not a religious one, to keep it at it’s original location.   The cross itself is secondary – how can some argue to move the monument when it was ceremoniously placed there 97 years ago?  What gives them the right?  It has nothing to do with constitutionality.   That’s how the original monument was constructed, and to deface it is disrespectful.   To think you know better than the people who put the monument there 100 years ago, not to mention an insult to family members and decendants, is the height of arrogance.   Not to mention ignorant of the law.

          • Kodie

             The soldiers to whom the monument is dedicated fought in a non-religious war and deserving of public commendation. If they are arguing to move the monument to a private land so they can keep the cross, I have a problem with that. The religious don’t own our war veterans and fallen soldiers, and it would be a statement to move the monument intact to say that they do. I don’t see how removing the cross defaces it, and if some church or private person wants to erect an alternate memorial, it would be like saying that person is claimed at that church or by that person, but that is ok if they want to do that in addition.

            As far as descendants, they can still see the names of their relatives on the monument, as well as keep religious icons at their personal gravesites. If they are insulted that their relatives were commemorated on a monument in the public square, that long ago, decided for everyone that a cross was appropriate (privileged, presumptuous), I don’t really care about how emotionally attached they are to a cross, yes, even the direct descendants. They don’t own the monument, and while it’s nice to be sensitive whenever possible, you can’t let personal sentiment rule every decision. It doesn’t sound like you know the law, but you do favor personal sentiment and preservation of a mark that was erected partially in error and needs to be corrected. My country sends its citizens to wars that are not religious, our country has no establishment of religion – to me, that patriotism, war, and Christianity (in the US) is a personal association that some people make, and I’d like future generations to know better.

            • Providence

               The people who are memorialized there were Christian, and WWI and II may not have been religious wars – but people bring their own sensibilities and religious and moral principles into their lives – who are we to say what was in their hearts and minds, and what they believed?   It is not up to you to judge and second guess what the original creators of this monument had in mind when these soldiers were memorialized 100 years ago.   The monument should stay in the place it was originally  intended – and remain inviolate.

              I would like to see future generations be a little more respectful.  It’s fine to hold your own beliefs, and you are entitled to them – but you can’t force your beliefs on others.   I don’t know why this religious symbol is so upsetting to atheists if it means nothing to them, and why they are intent to force their belief in nothing on others.    

              • Kodie

                 

                who are we to say what was in their hearts and minds, and what they believed?

                That’s exactly right. Who is even the monument maker to make a monument to their supposed Christianity? Who are all the townspeople to defend the symbol of the cross to equate with courage and valor? (I am paraphrasing a woman I just heard on the news talking about it). I don’t agree the cross stands for courage and valor, and taking it away does not take away their courage or their valor. It stands for personally held beliefs that have nothing to be praised for publicly, that are not, for the dictionary-reading and constitution-reading public equated with bravery. That’s exactly why the cross is offensive, and a symbol of religious establishment. While fighting in a war and even losing your life in that war still deserves a public recognition, equating that service with your personally held beliefs does not have a place. That’s what private gravesites are for, and presumably reflect their personally or familially held religious values.

                • Providence

                  What I meant was – who are we *today* to know?  They obviously knew at the time, and what I meant to say was that we have no right to second guess their decisions *today*. 

                  I understand the soldiers memorialized there were Christian, no ‘supposed’ about it.   Going forward, a religious symbol on private land might be different, depending upon the circumstances.     This is an historic landmark and should be protected as such.   

                • Kodie

                   We know that Christianity and bravery in war are two separate things (that religious beliefs may or may not be one’s personal motivation or inspiration to the other has no bearing). I disagree with the past, that’s why “going forward” we aren’t going to do it this way, we know better, then we can also pay notice to things that were the way they used to be, if they were always wrong. I don’t have to have reverence for particular decisions made a long time ago. What is the statute of limitations? How long do we embrace the tradition of Christian privilege if it was always unconstitutional?

                  Crosses and other religious symbols on public land have always kicked everyone else in the teeth, is what I’m saying. If we address them, this is not just currently offensive – it was always, if “going forward” will be different, offensive and exclusive and a symbol of establishment and preference. Crosses and other religious symbols or biblical passages or references on public grounds have gotten a free pass out of sheer ignorance and people equating their preferential religious beliefs with independent secular qualities like love, hope, bravery, honor, commendation, and memory. Taking the cross away does not diminish any of those qualities.

                • Onamission5

                  That is very well said.

                • Providence

                  Sorry, “public” land

      • Steve Ahlquist

         Place Jolicoeur, or Jolicooer Square, was dedicated in 1921 along with nine other spots in Woonsocket during a post WWI visit by Marshall Foch. There was no cross or any other kind of religious imagery added until 1952, when the Cross Monument was erected to the memory of the Gagne Brothers. This Cross was put up during the cold war, the same year Truman issued the first Presidential proclamation declaring a national Day of Prayer. The other nine spots dedicated by Foch have all been forgotten or paved over.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    I posted a YouTube video on this cross a few days ago, called ” False Arguments: Woonsocket Cross Removal”  outlining reasons why the cross should be removed. 

    My initial reaction was that our atheist organizations (e.g. FFRF) should tread gently on veterans memorials, since it is such a hot-button issue. 

    BUT really ALL cases where we assert our Constitutional rights are seen by religious as hot-button issues (even having a bus ad just saying the word Atheist gets it banned, vandalized, or called offensive). Also, all of these small issues ADD UP to a culture that screams government preference for religion over non-religion  (a few words saying In God We Trust on our currency, a single prayer banner at Jessica Alquists school, a ‘year of the bible’ proclamation in Pennsylvania, a national day of prayer, a Texas government rally to pray for rain, a little governmental sticker in textbooks casting doubt on evolution, etc.). 

    Also, we need to BREAK THE SPELL that has people think that religion and religious icons are beyond being challenged or questioned. 

    Meanwhile, we need to tell OUR side of the story. Not just here where we are mostly surrounded by atheists. 

    Each time one of these issues crops up, we need communicate with the locals in the involved area. Thus, we need to log-in to their local newspapers and post our reasons why the government should get out of the religion business. We need to make YouTube videos giving our views, go to opposing YouTube videos and start a dialogue to counter their monologues, submit letters to the Editor, send emails to local politicians and news reporters, etc. 

    ~~GodVlogger (on YouTube)

  • Offlogic

    Hey, I don’t see a Scientology (R) (TM) (BS) symbol on the Arlington sheet! What gives? 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628665833 Bill Santagata

    You could not be more wrong about the cross. The cross memorializes a specific person who was Christian. It is constitutional and the city will win this. Here is the letter I wrote the mayor explaining why.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/91367886/Letter-in-Support-of-Woonsocket-Fire-Dpt-Cross

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger/featured GodVlogger (on YouTube)

      The memorial should be for the MILITARY service/sacrifice of those veterans, not to use government land to endorse their religion.
       
       Since you like links, here is my YouTube video on the Woonsocket Cross, explaining why you are wrong:

      http://youtu.be/a23yLYTH8Ho

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628665833 Bill Santagata

        False Argument #3 is a matter of legislative policy preference, not constitutionality. You were correct to point out False Arguments #5.1, 6, and 8. Contrary to what you say in False Argument #5.2 (there are two numbered 5!), the judge may require the plaintiff to disclose him/herself if a lawsuit is filed.

        Contrary to False Argument #10, the City will win in Court. Inasmuch as you do not address the standards set in Van Orden v. Perry or Salazar v. Buono, your other arguments are deficient.

    • Marguerite

      I can’t quite make out the words on the monument from the photo. What, precisely, does it say? You seem to be saying it memorializes one specific person, whereas Hemant’s post indicated it was dedicated to veterans from two wars. Can anyone make out the exact words?

      • eonL5

        I can see three lines that say “in honor of” and a name. The biggest is something like “Cagne Brothers” – not sure of the Cs and Gs. So, seemingly, it is specific to individuals. I can’t be certain of the other names, but can definitely see “in memory of” or similar on all of them, followed by which war they fought in.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=628665833 Bill Santagata

        It was rededicated in the early 1950s when it was moved due to a flood. It was then that they added three brothers who died in WWII (all Christian). It was originally dedicated in 1921 to William Jolicoeur, killed in WWI.

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      I’m almost tempted to make a bet with you. ;-)

      (By the way, this is Richard Brum from the various Facebook groups of which we are both a part.)

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      Have you read Steve Ahlquist’s latest blog post about the cross monument?

      http://www.cautionchurchahead.com/2012/05/history-of-woonsocket-cross.html 

      • Annie

        Interesting!  Thanks for posting.

      • Kodie

         Very interesting.

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    This cross has been there since 1921, more than one third of the entire history of the nation. I say that makes it historical. 

  • A Morris

    Let the monument stay in place but remove the cross and replace it with a stylized statue of the servicemen. Problem solved! Right?

  • Kkonkoly

    I understand what your ultimate goal is, but have you thought about at what point (if at all) this symbol could be seen as an artifact rather than an endorsement of one particular religion?  The monument is over 90 years old.  I am American Indian and, while I am a little afraid to mention this to you for fear you may see it as a challenge, but there are several places in the West that have visible Tribal religious symbols on Federal Land.  What comes to mind are certain “cave dwelling” symbols and images.  There are plenty of religious symbols that are representative of the religion that is still practiced by my people today.  So, to the extent that those symbols are on Public Lands, should we go and erase them?  What if I told you they were created less than 50 years ago as part of certain Tribal ceremonies?  On a related note, I have a question — would you fight this hard if this were a Star of David Memorial for victims of the Holocaust on public land?  The SOD is certainly NOT representative of all victims — particularly the Atheists and Catholics who were murdered along with the Jews. 

    I appreciate what you do — someone needs to fight against government encroaching on religious freedom, as guaranteed by the Constitution.  I just am interested in understanding from your perspective at what point erasing all religion from Government becomes erasing history and culture from our society?   

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      This is a blurry line: history and religion. According to our Constitution, the government must remain secular (i.e. neutral), but there is a lot of history of Christianity. The thing is, which is more important? Historical sentimentality, or our Constitution?

      Also, this cross is clearly Christian. The cross, in that form, is a symbol for Christianity exclusively, and no other religious belief, or any other form of belief. It is the cross on which Jesus was executed, and it represents their belief in salvation through him. It is clear-cut that this is a religious symbol, and it has no place on government property.

      • Pat

        im an atheist as well and i horribly disagree with this problem it was dedicated 91 years ago and i thought now a days was about religious tolerance yeah the cross is there its not killing me and were you there when they erected it do you know why they decided to erect the cross  and another detail there was no laws or rights declaring that the government was void from building religious symbols on state property until 1947 and the cross being erected would be exempt the right you are talking about is the fact that the Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise  thereof there by saying=ng that there shall be no laws that are religious

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Couple of thoughts.  For one I’m ok with ‘grandfathering’ (or grand mothering)  things that are legitimately historical, and I think a good line might be things that predate the Constitution.

      And looking at the ‘Lemon test’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_v._Kurtzman

      The government’s action must have a secular legislative purpose;

      The government’s action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;

      The government’s action must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.
      I think there’s a secular purpose to keeping things of an historical value.  I don’t think Native symbols remaining on what is now Federal (but used to be Native) land can be seen as advancing religion, and I don’t think it’s excessive entanglement with religion.

      Maybe I’m biased because Christianity isn’t the target.  I’m sure rwlawoffice will let me know if I am.  Heck, if an old church went bankrupt and were bought by a government agency, I wouldn’t want to see all the stained glass destroyed either.  Just because something has both a religious and government connection doesn’t make it a violation per se.  That’s why we have the Lemon test. 

      • Ndonnan

        AH a balanced opinion Rich,well done

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Scott-Rhoades/100000175617377 Scott Rhoades

    The argument that we should leave the cross be simply because it has been there that long is fallacious. Slavery was an American institution for many years. A woman’s right to vote is a fairly recent change to how things were when considered against the longevity of the country. In neither case does that mean they should have been preserved simply because of how long they existed. Just because nobody felt comfortable enough to speak up against the monument until now does not mean that it is right. It could easily be argued that up until recently the religious climate  in the U.S. was such that a Non-Christian would have felt in danger of reprisals from their community if they had spoken up. How long a monument stands has nothing to do with the legality of it being on public property. Every time we concede just because a constitutional violation has been in effect for a long time it can be used as precedent to justify other violations. There is a simple solution in moving the monument to private property, maybe even right next door to where is stands now.

    • Kkonkoly

      So then you would agree we should eradicate all American Indian dwellings on federal land? 

      • Kkonkoly

        Meant to say, those dwellings that are used for religious purposes?

      • CultOfReason

        Not exactly an apples to apples comparison since tribes possess tribal sovereignty, with their own specific sets of laws.

  • Karenm

    I’m an atheist and I think being ‘right’ has little to do with doing tge right thing. Your last sentence shows an appalling lack of empathy and a paternalistic attitude towards the citizens of Woonsocket.

    Fine, going forward, no more crosses, but in this case it just makes FFRF look like bullies. Putting the town in the position of turning to a religious organization for money for legal fees is the antithesis of attraction or reasonableness.

    Respect for history does not mean an enorsement of Christianity or religiosity – it’s just common sense.

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      You sound just like the people who said that Jessica Ahlquist should never have put the town of Cranston in a position to defend itself legally. It wasn’t Ahlquist who put that town in that position, and it’s not the FFRF who are putting the city of Woonsocket in that position either. The FFRF is bringing up a valid constitutional infringement, and the city is being stubborn about it.

      • karenm

        I can see how you might draw a correlation there are some differences.  No one died for the banner with the prayer in the school.  The banner was a gift from a graduating class, not a memorial for those who died in war.  The memorial is there to honor people who died many years ago so that the FFRF might have the freedom to choose whether they want to follow a religion or not.  Kind of ironic that they now want to remove that memorial.

        Our history does have religious overtones, predominantly Christian and while going forward it is inappropriate for governments at any level to incorporate religion into governing we need to be reasonable in the preservation of our history.  The memorial does not promote Christianity, it honors people who happened to be Christian.  

        That is the main difference between what’s happening in Woonsocket and the Cranston school issue.

        Atheists get a bad name from unreasonable demands made on a society that is slow to change.  Slowly, slowly, catch the monkey – what’s the big rush?  If we’re confident in our belief in Atheism why do we need to alienate people?  Extremism in any form is unattractive.

        • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger/featured GodVlogger (on YouTube)

           Well, if (as you say) the memorialized veterans died so that groups like FFRF could have the freedoms that FFRF enjoys, let’s consider that this includes FFRF’s rights to choose religion, no religion, anti-religion, etc., and to choose free speech, to choose to legally challenge our government, etc.

          When you think of it that way, since the veterans died so that FFRF could enjoy all these rights, then it follows that FFRF should file the lawsuit because otherwise these veterans would have died for benefits that were not being utilized and part of their deaths would be a waste.

          • karenm

            With rights come responsibility.  Freedom of religion does not dictate an absence religious symbols.

  • Deanna

    I really don’t understand why the atheists are so offended by the cross. A man who came to represent true love and forgiveness willingly died on it to show that we can overcome death. Before that event the cross, to the Jews, represented condemnation and death which is why Jesus chose it as his place to die. He turned the cross into a sign of love and hope instead of a sign of death and condemnation. You don’t have to believe in God to see that…just a loving man who had a powerful message for us all. Putting a cross at a cemetary is putting the message out there that death can be overcome. It excludes no one. Why hate it?

    • Red_mcwilliams

       The cross isn’t offensive, it’s the government endorsement of the cross that’s the problem.

      I don’t know how you can think the Jesus story isn’t excluding anyone.  I don’t believe that story is true, so according to most christians, I’m going to be tortured forever in a lake of fire while you spend eternity in peaceful bliss with all the celebrities of history.  Sounds awfully exclusionary to me.

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        I see the cross itself as inherently offensive. But that’s not the problem here. As you say, it’s the apparent government endorsement of the symbol that is problematic, and probably illegal.

        • c nuts

           If you find a cross offensive then you’re probably a bitch

      • Deanna

        I don’t believe in a hell beyond this place so no, I don’t think you, or anyone else will be tortured forever in a lake of fire. You are as loved as I am by One who does not need your belief in Him to love you. He just does.

        • Marguerite

          But you do realize that most Christians believe in a hell, right? And that Jesus said “no one comes to the Father but through me” and talked about how nonbelievers would be cast into “a furnace of fire”? It’s nice that you personally prefer a more liberal version of Christianity– a kinder, gentler version, if you will– but that doesn’t seem to be the most prevalent interpretation of the Bible amongst believers, alas.

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          Non sequitur.

          It doesn’t matter what your religious views are, the point you’re responding to is that our government cannot take an action that endorses any religion, or which even gives the impression it is doing so. This is true regardless of whether you believe your god loves you.

    • Marguerite

      “Putting a cross at a cemetary is putting the message out there that death can be overcome. It excludes no one.”

      This isn’t a cemetery, and no one is arguing that religious people should not be allowed to have religious symbols on their graves. This is a memorial on public land. And a cross on public land does send an exclusive message; it excludes those who don’t believe it. That includes atheists, who don’t believe in a life after death, as well as members of other religions, who may believe in an afterlife, but who obviously don’t believe one gets to that afterlife via Jesus.

      • Deanna

        I don’t think we get an after life because we believe in Jesus…I think we get one anyway. I think that we open ourselves to Heaven if we LIVE the way HE did which is what he meant by being the “Way.” He taught to love one another the way he loves us. That kind of love opens Heavens doors. But anyway…I’m sorry that you find the cross so offensive and exclusive. I’ve always seen it as a sign of love which meant, to me, that it is ALL inclusive. Love isnt for just those who believe in it…it is available to anyone who accepts it for themselves.

        • Marguerite


          I don’t think we get an after life because we believe in Jesus…I think we get one anyway.”

          And as I said below, yay for you. But this is not the ordinary way in which people interpret the Bible, as I am sure you realize. One person’s opinion, however inclusive, does not negate the general exclusivity of the religion.

          “I’ve always seen it as a sign of love which meant, to me, that it is ALL inclusive. ”

          Again, that’s nice for you. But the way you see things is not necessarily the way everyone else sees things. There are all sorts of religious beliefs and unbeliefs in this world, and not everyone wants to see religious symbols all over public property. What you see as love, others may see as condemnation or hatred.

          “But anyway…I’m sorry that you find the cross so offensive and exclusive.”

          It’s only a problem when it’s ON PUBLIC LAND. Try this: Would you be perfectly okay with this monument being on public land if it were topped by a Wiccan pentacle? Even if you personally were, do you suppose most people would be?  If it makes people uncomfortable when it’s the symbol of a minority religion, then it’s probably an inappropriate place for ANY religious symbol.

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      A man was invented to forgive people for sins they never committed, and to forgive them on behalf of others for ones they did? In the name of this likely imaginary man, churches sprang up around the world that invented dogma, some of the most intolerant and hateful ever seen? Churches that suppressed rational thinking and left much of the world in the dark ages for hundreds of years? Suggesting that death can be “overcome” and thereby rob the gullible of the will to make their actual life meaningful?

      Yes, the cross is a hateful symbol. It does not belong in any setting where its presence could reasonably be interpreted as a governmental endorsement of its foul history and foul message.

      • Deanna

        Interesting that a myth involving an imaginary man who never lived nor died but who…in the supposed life he had only led MAYBE 1000 people (though perhaps not that many) is still worshiped and crucified over 2000 years later every single day by millions worldwide. Not to mention the MANY, MANY, MANY who have died for his name over that 2000 years! If you read the historical facts for during that time there isn’t a chance in hell that something such as a myth could have survived with this passion for that long. Heck…even the atheists are passionate about Christ…something you don’t even believe in! It’s truely a miracle that even a living man that only lived 30 years could have the impact that Jesus has had…much less a myth – dang, that’d be an even bigger miracle!

        • Ndonnan

          Good on you Deanna,you go girl,or guy maybe

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          Nothing especially interesting about it. This describes the mythology of every human culture we know of. Modern biblical scholarship (finally involving actual historians, and not just theologians) is providing increasingly powerful evidence that Jesus did not exist at all, and is demonstrating the mechanisms by which Christianity was born and spread.

          You’re going to have to do better than an appeal to passion if you want to convince anybody on a board populated mostly by rationalists.

    • Kodie

       

      Before that event the cross, to the Jews, represented condemnation and
      death which is why Jesus chose it as his place to die. He turned the
      cross into a sign of love and hope instead of a sign of death and
      condemnation.

      It still represents condemnation and death. Only Christians see it as a sign of love and hope.

      • Deanna

        Actually, that is not the case. Most of the Jewish community that I know are very respectful of Jesus and the events of his death. They view the cross as love and hope as well. I am asking this sincerely…do you really see it as a sign of death and condemnation or just as a sign of Christianity and that is why you hate it so?

        • Onamission5

          Wanting government to uphold the constitution =/= hating the cross.  It’s not like we go around pissing on it when it’s displayed appropriately. That’s the point. Appropriateness.

        • Kodie

          I see it as a sign of religious establishment by the government when it is on public grounds. I see it as a sign of Christian privilege when I see protests to preserve signs of Christianity on public grounds. I don’t see how taking it away infringes on anyone’s personal right to believe, even your airy-fairy, watered down beliefs that there’s no hell and we are all going to heaven no matter what. That’s a very selective version of a religion with a history of violence and self-righteousness. You choose to believe a story and a symbol means love to you, and imposing your interpretation on the rest of us who see variations regarding an instrument of torture and execution that binds a majority of people in the US loosely to a similar but varietally selective set of beliefs, enjoying privilege and preference in a country dedicated in its 1st Amendment to the Constitution to not establish any religion, nor infringe on anyone’s rights to have those beliefs.

          That is, you can associate the cross with whatever powers and message you want, but you fail to understand how exclusive that interpretation is, or why we don’t think such a message as “love and hope” are necessarily conveyed equally by a cross as you think, nor how inappropriate it is for the government to distinctly prefer Christians to everyone else.

    • The Other Weirdo

       If death excludes no one, it can’t be overcome. The point, though, is that the cross isn’t an instrument of love and hope, it’s a torture and execution device, just like the axe or the guillotine or the noose or the flames or the impaling pole. Jesus didn’t pick it, he wasn’t given a choice, assuming the events occurred at all. But, even if he did, so what? Following his death, the cross still represented death and condemnation and torture. Nothing really changed in that regard.

      • Deanna

        He was given a choice…He chose to die on it only to show that death means nothing…love and forgiveness mean everything.

        • Onamission5

          This isn’t the “christian prostelytizing” zone, honey. Go witness elsewhere.

    • Kodie

      I really don’t understand why the atheists are so offended by the cross….Putting a cross at a cemetary is putting the message out there that death can be overcome.

      I just noticed this after I already posted.

      “is putting the message out there” – that’s pure evangelism, on public property. How can you not understand? This is not a private memorial, this is not a message that death CAN BE overcome. This is a belief held by some people, people who are invested in retaining preferential standing on public grounds so that they can continue establishing their beliefs as traditional and off-limits. You think it’s nice because you are biased that everyone should believe what you believe, and nobody should protest that you are, in actual words, interested that the cross sends a particular message. Yes, it sends the message that Christians who protest taking it down are clueless about what it means to everyone else. “Jesus” is nice, local soldiers died in a major war, death can be overcome, if you come to Jesus. That’s what’s wrong with the cross on public land.

      • Deanna

        I’m not asking anyone to beleive anything. I don’t believe that belief in God is required of anyone. That’s where freewill comes in. We were given freewill and faith….they are not mutually exclusive. You choose not to have faith. Certainly your choice and I respect that. If some folks feel the need to have cross somewhere I guess I don’t understand why you don’t see that they need their sign of love displayed. Is it really that offensive? It’s just two pieces of wood put together. If you don’t believe in Jesus or God….seems like it would mean absolutely nothing to you.

        • Onamission5

          Would you find it offensive to have the hammer and sickle or a swastica on a city monument? Why, if you’re not a communist or a nazi, would it bother you?

          Christians have a long history of burning people like us alive. Gee, wonder why that bothers us.

        • Kodie

          Why do you care so much that you think it should stay? Isn’t the message still out there? Does it have to be everywhere? Would taking it away be taking away the message from everywhere? Take it away from places it doesn’t belong, and leave it where it does. I mean, if you’re asking me why don’t I accept it – it’s just a physical object – so, why do you worship it? Why is this physical object so important to you? Why does your religious belief get to be projected as something we should just ignore if we don’t like it? Why can’t you ignore that we don’t like it? Why should we tolerate our government preferring your beliefs and preserving symbols of it as if they are so holy – it’s just a piece of wood, so don’t be too attached to it.

          Removing it does not have a magical impact on the soldiers it commemorates, nor the town. Everyone can still be in heaven if you want to believe they are, and everyone can still pray to Jesus if they want to.

    • Onamission5

      It excludes everyone who doesn’t belong to the christian religion. What part of that do you not get?

      • Deanna

        I am sorry that you feel excluded. Love is not about exclusion or belonging to a particluar religion….Love isn’t of Itself “religious”. Please consider yourself included in the Love that is available to you. I extend my hand in peace to you.

        • Onamission5

          Honey, please. The last thing I want from you is some patronizing platitudes/internet conversion attempt. This isn’t about what I feel, or needing anyone to feel sorry for me. This isn’t about me at all, nor is it about you. This is about city governments thinking they are above the law, just because they happen to be mostly christians, and attempting to get special treatment for their religious beliefs, practices and symbols by calling it tradition.

          Extend your hand in peace all you want. If you seek special treatment for your religion over any other, you’re still violating the constitution.

        • Michael

          Perhaps if you feel so strongly about love you should read the bible and note how little love it contains.

        • Ndonnan

          Deanna,what you say is true and kind but its going nowhere.The sign of the cross isnt a symbol of love to atheism but an offence and a threat.It says you need to change your life,youve got it wrong,there are concequences to your life choices.So it demands a responce.

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            That’s not quite why it bothers me.  I don’t have a problem with crosses on churches, or around people’s necks, or on car bumpers, or the vast majority of places.  I don’t feel threatened, or offended.  It doesn’t make me feel loved, but I don’t really associate it with a torture device either.  It’s just a symbol that I know is important to other people.

            And I certainly don’t agree with the consequences of life choices part.  Absolutely I think there are consequences to my life choices, but if anything, seeing a cross makes me glad I’m not (as I see it) saddled with the baggage of the belief system.

            What bothers me is that my government is telling me that there’s a club, and I’m not in it.  Sure I can join, but unless I do, I’m not in it.  I think there should be one ‘club’- all citizens.  Doesn’t matter what color your are, or sex, or age, or (assuming you’re naturalized) where you’re born.  Or what you think about the god(s) question.  You’re either a citizen of this country or you’re not.  The government should be taking a completely neutral stance.  Not pushing any one religion, or lack of.  I’ve said it many times before, I don’t want a government telling me there is a god, or which god, or there is no god.  I want the government to stay out of it, and let me, and each of my fellow citizens, work that out for ourselves.

            • Ndonnan

              Put it this way Rich,in my country,[Australia]football is the national religion,[in some parts they like rugby, but theyre pagans].Same setup as church,youth programs starting at 5yo,pastors[coach] denominations[teams]ect ect ect.Every single news broardcast has something to do with football.There are statues in parks,effergys on public buildings, town halls have banners,and leading up to grandfinal day [christmas day]you carnt get away from it. The government fund,support and give tax breaks to it.Point is ,i dont like football,if i complain all i get is “suck it up princess,what bloke dosent follow footy”. So when atheists take a school to court over a banner, do you have any idea how sad that looks,you dont belive in heaven or hell,fine,ok you will have to cope with a nativity scene at chrismas and people saying “God bless you”,but its not that bad,you can cope. When Hindus say if im not nice i will come back as an ant,i say “thats nice”,so they belive somthing weird, so what.I read in the paper last week 14 youth were hung in Yemen[i think] because they wore emo clothes,thats not what your up againt here,keep things in perspective,and heh,have a great day Rich,i pray Gods blessing on you and that He will reveal Himself to you in a way that you will know He is who He says He is.

              • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                I’m not into the pro-sports hero worship either.  I know Aussies are passionate about sports, but try college (American obviously) football here.  They don’t have enough time to play enough games to actually determine a champion, so they have some kind of sports writers voting thing to pick one, or pick the contenders or something.  I don’t really understand it.  But I’ve even seen a petition to the President to force an actual playoff.  But I digress.  I was once on a bus listening to the driver and a passenger gripe about it, and I made the joking comment that the solution was for them to stop taking classes, and do what they’re really there for- play football.  Then they could have a proper season.

                Luckily the passenger was in a wheelchair and the driver was driving, or else I would have been tossed off the bus and lynched  like I’d bad mouthed Mohammed in Iran!

                In full disclosure, I do watch bike racing, but I don’t have a particular rider or team.  I enjoy the tactics and drama, and appreciate a hard fought well deserved win, by whoever it is.

    • Patterrssonn

      Don’t be silly.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Based on what I’ve read here, I’m not convinced this is a battle that can be won, or more importantly, that it is a battle that should even be fought. I really don’t understand the black-and-white attitudes that people are adopting these days. Is it a violation? Probably. Should be removed? Probably not. Should more memorials just like it be built on exact same lands? Probably not. There are battles worth fighting. This isn’t one of them.

  • Ibis3

    Why not just remove the cross and replace it with a secular symbol — a wreath, a sword or rifle point down with a helmet on top, an urn, an anthropomorphised sculpture of Woonsocket in mourning, a plaque with etched portraits of the men named on the monument….

    After all, if it’s the memorial nature of the thing that counts, then it shouldn’t matter to the mayor what the symbol is.  They could run a contest to pick some appropriate design and thus involve the whole community.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

    I don’t think atheists should go after every antique monument that has religious symbolism.  There are just too many, and where do we draw the line?  What about weeping angels  and obelisks?

    In this case I must say that the cross is aesthetically unappealing, and doesn’t look like it goes stylistically with the rest of the monument.  Maybe if they didn’t paint it white.

  • Kodie

    It’s the privilege of being Christian in the US that got this cross passed the first time it was erected. I think the people in the video would want it taken down if the original monument had been to a Jew with a star of David, the “re-dedication” would have either been a new monument to specify Christians, which is unconstitutional, even if everyone named on the monument professed Christianity of some sort, or to “Christianify” the monument to “cover all bases” as seen by the majority (privilege).

    I think it doesn’t matter that everyone dedicated on that memorial was Christian for the cross to need to go. I suppose everyone dedicated on that memorial was also male, and what if the symbol used was the “o->”? People would now understand how ridiculous and exclusionary it was, even if it was traditional at the time it was erected, and even though there is really no constitutional reason to change or move it. Take the cross off, leave the monument, add a plaque even, to explain how there used to be a cross, but for all these soldiers fought and died for, all our rights which are not to be confused with Christian privilege.

    When I saw this story on the news, they also added a bit where they were also challenging the Fire Dept.’s website, which has the Fireman’s Prayer and images of angels on it. I have a lot of respect for firefighters, but this is also giving special exception on a hot-button issue. How dare anyone challenge firefighters! Right? Unlike the monument, the website is not that old, and need not make a religious statement, even if every firefighter believes it and it helps them through the course of what they do for a living. You don’t “get” whatever that is from a website, so I don’t really understand where they said they won’t budge on the website, but they might have to concede on the war monument due to lack of financial resources. As long as firefighters are public servants, they have no business expressing a united religious preference anywhere.

    • Marguerite


      I think it doesn’t matter that everyone dedicated on that memorial was Christian for the cross to need to go.”

      I’m going to add here that it may not be clear what someone’s religious affiliation is. My father served in WWII, and he would have shown up on records as a Methodist, but in fact he was (and at 95 still is) an atheist. I suspect plenty of people in the era claimed the religious affiliation of their families, but who knows what was really in their hearts?

      I’m looking at his New Testament from the era, and the printed inscription from FDR reads: “As Commander-in-Chief I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States. Throughout the centuries men of many faiths and diverse origins have found in the Sacred Book words of wisdom, counsel and inspiration. It is a foundation of strength and now, as always, an aid in attaining the highest aspirations of the human soul.”

      In an era in which the government handed out New Testaments to soldiers as a matter of course, I doubt too many of those soldiers were inclined to say they were nonbelievers. None of which is to suggest that the people listed on this monument were not Christians. I’m just saying it may be difficult to tell what their beliefs truly were, at this distance.

  • Providence

    I’m afraid that selling it to a private landowner might increase the likelihood that the cross would be removed or tampered with, depending upon who buys the land, of course.    It should stay under the city’s jurisdiction so that they can take care of it with the respect it deserves.   All of you trumpeting about constitutionality should take a moment to read the case precedent posted below, especially the concurring Supreme Court opinion in Van Orden vs. Perry, where Justice Breyer states that it was never the intent of the Establishment Clause to “purge” religion from the public sphere, especially when the monument has a secular purpose such as the Jolicoeur monument.   What a beautiful piece of history – it should never be defaced and disrepected by tampering with it, something nearly 100 years old.

    “But the Establishment Clause does not compel the government to purge from the
    public sphere all that in any way partakes of the religious. Such absolutism is
    not only inconsistent with our national traditions, but would also tend to
    promote the kind of social conflict the Establishment Clause seeks to avoid.”

    Bye, bye FFRS – you have no case, and you can’t intimidate this community.

    • Onamission5

      And by “our national traditions” you mean white, male, land owning christian privlidge, of course.

  • Annie

    I’m still in shock at how impartial the FOX anchorwoman appeared… she must be new.

    • Piet Puk

       Yes, she seemed really honest. Especially when the mayor kept repeating his non-arguments and just try to win by keep talking.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FFPEUZKLUKUIH6UTUY7OIS2IDQ Springfield Nights

      That’s Shannon Bream. She’s the perfect Fox News hire. Look at some of her credentials:

      Miss Virginia 1990
      Miss Florida USA 1995
      Graduate of Liberty University

  • CultOfReason

    I’d like to propose a compromise.  Would the town be willing to  allow the religious symbols (as well as the atheist symbol) of other petitioners in order to honor the diversity of people that gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country?

  • anon atheist 23

    This is a proxy war that you are fighting just because you can’t get god
    removed from the pledge of allegiance and the dollar bills. The cross
    is also a symbol of death so like in the case of the crosses near
    highways in Utah I don’t think this is a worthy fight to fight. These
    were Christian soldiers so just let them have their cross.

  • Ndonnan

    So you think this is a sure fire thing,good as done,dont waste your money.I sense this might prove a bit harder than a school banner,not saying atheists wont win but the cost will be like a pedophile priest to the catholic church

  • Jeff Samuelson

    There are some battles worth fighting. Others, well, I’m not so sure. With the cross having been there for 90+ years, I’d categorize it as an historical landmark.

    I think doing this just casts atheists as hypersensitive and litigious. There are legitimate issues at stake, to be sure, but I question the wisdom of taking umbrage at seemingly every single religious symbol that can presently  be found on public land.

    Then again, I don’t know enough about the facts of the case to give an informed opinion, so I’ll quit before I dig myself any deeper.

  • Nacoma

    You’ve missed a critical point as to whether this memorial is legal or not.  You stated:   “That’s a far cry from the Woonsocket Cross, which suggests that all the local war veterans were Christians.”  It does nothing of the sort.   It is a memorial for 4 specific soldiers who, presumably, were Christians.  

  • KurtFillMiller

    It must be a big downer to the FFRF.org that they only have about fifteen thousand people in their fight when Christians have only hundreds of millions! You so called “Free Stinkers” need to get real jobs and back off people with beliefs in life! Atheists are really sad because you go through life not holding on to much of anything besides a piece of paper that some old dead guys crafted hundreds of years ago. Religion will always be around, The constitution as you know can be stretched. You people forget that if yu were dying on a sidewalk someone of faith would be the first to help! The cross sybol above the memorial indicates that GOD takes all, not just Christians…EVERYONE! I am not even a practicing religious person but like I said their is defiantly something more out there than just a constitution. The cross monument will stay where it is, simple as that. JESUS LOVES YOU!

  • DQ

    Why go after the cross, when government property is littered with obelisks, the Egyptian symbol for their pagan sun god “ra”? Seems like discrimination, if you ask me, although it does validate the Scriptures that declare that the ” cross” would be an offense. The Freedom from religion group should rename itself ” The Freedom from the Christian Faith” group….that would be more honest.

    • Kodie

       The Scriptures aren’t validated by this unless you’re deluded. Unlike Jesus, the sun actually exists, and modern obelisks aren’t inferred to have religious symbolism any more than Carhenge. It’s at best a misappropriated architecture. Anyway, the scriptures seemed to predict the Christian beliefs would be met with doubt and derision, and to prepare the deluded to expect to meet with doubt and derision, to solidify their beliefs on the premise that the more doubt and derision one met, the more proof they had that their beliefs are correct, and the more solid those beliefs should become. Is that a good reason to believe anything? Terrible rumors were spread about people who had doubts of Christianity’s truth or derision for believers, again, to strengthen those ridiculous beliefs among the deluded. So, don’t forget that part.  That would be, how you say, “more honest.”

      Freedom from Christianity tends to be the most visible because Christians are the most prominent, and tend to demand the most special treatment on the basis of popularity, but they are not singled out particularly.

      • DQ

        Obelisks are religious symbols….FFRF objects to religious symbols…yet they don’t seem to mind all of the pagan symbols that abound all around us, including government/public properties…..or are you saying they only object to symbols for which they have no faith? You only confirm what I’ve asserted. FFRF is not against religion, just against the Christian religion. Their tolerance is as deep as their faith. Your’s seems even less so.

        • Annie

          Hmm.  Yes and no.  Obelisks are architectural elements that were present in many ancient cultures:  Egyptian,  Roman, Keralian, Ethiopian, etc.  When one looks at an obelisk, the first response is generally, “architecture” not “Ra”.  When one sees a cross, the first response in not “ooh, architecture”, regardless of how masterfully it might have been built.  So just as the FFRF does not go after signage that may have a shamrock on it (as that was a Celtic symbol in Ireland around the 5th century), there is no need to go after the obelisk.  We have many obsolete religious symbols that can be found in our culture.  The difference between them and the cross is that the cross is not obsolete and still has a very strong significance for one specific religion.

          • DQ

            Just because a culture is ignorant of what obelisks are, does not render special rights for this ancient symbol of a pagan religious diety. How does your defense square with the fact that Washington DC is laid out on a pentagram, or that the pentagon itself is designed after pagan geometry. We are surrounded by pagan symbols. Yes, even the days of the week and planets are named after pagan deities, as well as the constellations. We have learned to be tolerant of the pagan world around us. What problem does FFRF have with the cross, except that it does not want to be reminded of the crucifixion of Jesus? It is true for many that the cross is nothing more than a quaint symbol, foolishness to others, but to those who have faith, it is the power of God. You would like to think that the gov’t of this country should be secular, but then one has to ask, why do they go to Bohemian grove and have pagan ceremonies with their god molech? Fun and games? Really? You think so? You may or may not of noticed that they have changed the shamrock symbol from a 3 leaf clover, to a 4 leaf clover….the 4 leave clover was the. Celtic symbol….the 3 leaf clover was used by St. Patrick to demonstrate the trinity. the facts speak for themselves, FFRF is anti-christian. They have no objections to pagan religions, and our Gov’t endorsement of them.

            • Kodie

              Just because a culture is ignorant of what obelisks are, does not
              render special rights for this ancient symbol of a pagan religious
              diety.


              Amendment I
              Congress shall make no law respecting an
              establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or
              abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the
              people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a
              redress of grievances.

              I don’t think you understand how an obelisk is not like a cross, or a cross is not like an obelisk, you know, not just in shape, but in meaning. Anyway, there are some nifty rights there, and if you think the Egyptian pagans enjoy a status that is favored by the US government in symbol or reference, then petition your government for redress. If you think you are being clever by pretending your cross is as obsolete a symbol as an obelisk, or we should just pretend it does, I disagree. It’s fair to petition the government for a redress of grievances such as how a community full of Christians think they own the United States, despite what it says in the 1st Amendment. This is not a distortion of the amendment, this is an application to see if the document is worth the paper it’s printed on. If it turns out it’s not, your rights as well as mine will have been violated. Don’t pretend atheists only attack Christians, it’s Christians who take themselves as exceptional to the law, by a matter of popularity, and they’re not allowed to do that. Atheist groups tend to have a lot more issues with Christianity not because we don’t believe what they believe, but because they have taken advantage and gone over the line, and whine every time anyone tries to move that line back where it’s fair for everyone. I haven’t heard a peep out of Egyptian sun-god worshipers in, like, millennia.
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ra

              The rise of Christianity in the Roman empire caused an end to the worship of Ra by the citizens of Egypt, and as Ra’s popularity suddenly died out, the study of Ra became purely for academic knowledge even among the Egyptian priests.

              • DQ

                “or the free exercise there of”…. (I bet you wished that wasn’t in there) Ancient Egyptian religions are indeed being practiced under new names…many dabble in their occultic practices. These are called ” the mystery religions”. Kabbala being one of many that have borrowed elements of these ancient rituals…Molech is a particularly nasty sort of god from the canaanite culture and those who worshipped him sacrificed children to him…you’re ok with world leaders worshipping and practicing rituals every year for this so-called god at bohemian grove? You think that they have a secular mindset…you are critically mistaken. I would like you to show me one other religious group that FFRF has bullied with their intolerance. As far as redress…what do I care if this world system likes having their little statues all around them….I am just a pilgrim here. I guess this is all there is for FFRF, and they don’t seem to like to be reminded of it. They sure do seem to relish in censoring anything that has to do with the Bible.

                • Kodie

                   

                  “or the free exercise there of”…. (I bet you wished that wasn’t in there)

                  I don’t want the government telling me what to believe any more than you do, which is why they should be neutral. As it stands now in Woonsocket, it’s telling me to think like a Christian or get out.

                  As for the rest, you are just resorting to nonsense and lies. Nobody is censoring anything that has to do with the bible, this is a confrontation not to your or anyone else’s beliefs, but to challenge the government to see if they really mean what they say in the Constitution. You have yet to answer for the prominence of FFRF cases “against Christians” is due to the PROMINENCE of CHRISTIANS. Nobody is asking these things on behalf of atheism, but on behalf of your freedom to worship your mismatched socks if you want to, freedom from being told that the government endorses the church of sandals. I don’t feel that the government is establishing a pagan religion, but if you do, you are free to address it with them. Don’t try to make anyone here out to be a hypocrite because we’re not concerned with Egyptian sun-god worship. Like I said, you’re reaching, because you belong to a majority and you like that the government displays your symbols preferentially, and you feel bad because we’re not picking on minor/non-existent beliefs.

                  You wouldn’t like them to switch it to the star and crescent and neither would I and neither would the FFRF. The FFRF would take your case if you had an Islam symbol on the government property in your town. Why do we keep those Muslims from planting their symbols on our public lands, is it because the Muslims know their place? Why is it so easy to see when we are dealing with a current religion, why are you pretending Christianity and Egyptian sun-god worship is equally current? Muslims do not enjoy any special preference, and many even find it difficult to enjoy the “free exercise of”. It would be difficult to find a monument on public land that presumes all who live in town are Muslims and wouldn’t mind, without the public outcry first from Christians before it ever had a chance to be built.

                • DQ

                  I hardly think that a cross erected 91 years ago in memory of WWII vets or the town of Woonsocket cares what you think, never mind insist you think like a Christian. You can not think like a Christian without faith, and a concrete cross isn’t going to give you that. Don’t delude yourself by thinking censoring Longstanding Christian symbols is protecting anyone’s rights. It is the “spirit of this world” that compels people to hate the cross. You show me that FFRF fights against other religions….according to their website, they are all challenges against Christian symbols. Still, I am a bit curious why the fact that the gov’t worships molech doesn’t seem to bother you. I bet you’ll find that the only “religious” belief that really bothers you, is the one that follows the Bible…the world is at enmity with God Almighty.

                • Annie

                  Can you please give examples of how the government worships Molech?

                • DQ

                  Google Molech and Bohemian Grove…

                • Kodie

                   Turns out this 91-year-old cross is “revisionist history.” It’s pretty clear you have no intention of answering any questions, and rather have pulled out the “because god” argument finally, and cry persecution. You’re having a one-sided argument with yourself where you know what you think and you think you also know what I think, none of which has been relevant, helpful, or, at heart, civil. That’s exactly why a cross doesn’t belong on government land, but you hard-headed will not get it.

                • DQ

                  Did you ask a question? I didn’t see any questions from you. I’ll be happy to answer your questions. If you asked a question, I sure didn’t see it, although, when you ask your question, answer this one for me. For which comment do you accuse me of lying? I will gladly supply resources and facts.

                • Kodie

                   You didn’t acknowledge the correlation between FFRF cases against Christianity and the predominance of Christianity. You keep pretending FFRF takes a particular offense to your religion out of the clear blue. Or because the bible said  that would happen. And now you accuse me of accusing you of lying. You repeatedly bet me that you know what’s on my mind, while ignoring the actual words I use. These are facts, I could refer you to the thread so you could double-check your resources.

                • DQ

                  You wrote:”as for the rest, you are resorting to nonsense and lies”…. (I cannot import your comment on my iPad, but it’s about 2 comments above) so it sounds like you were saying I was lying, or making up nonsense….again, happy to provide you the resources. if you review the FFRF website for challenges and legal battles, you will discover that ALL of them are attacks on Christian symbols or the Bible…not just most of them…all of them. There are far more non-Christians than there are true Christians, and there are many more neopaganists than there are true Christians. there are far more pagan symbols on public land than there are Christian symbols. These pagan symbols are designed with precision, and are occultic in nature. These were not built by accident…they were built for a reason, as you will find all places of worldly power, contain them. You may not acknowledge a spiritual realm, but that does not mean one does not exist.

            • Annie

              When ancient pagans come back from the dead and start trying to push their gods down my throat, or attempt to teach their fairy tales in the science classroom, or tell me my medical care must be dictated by their holy customs, then I may begin to care.  Until then, I don’t see much of a threat, do you?  And if the pagans frighten you so, you may want to give them back all the rituals, customs, holidays and gods (that you now call saints) you copied and call your own. 

        • Kodie

           You need to learn to tell the difference between what symbols constitute endorsement of a belief and which are not. Should we rename all the planets too? Most people recognize a myth for a fictional story, and one day, some day, all the US will rediscover crosses as a quaint decoration that doesn’t mean anything. If you believe the government is endorsing a particular Egyptian belief as “TRUE”, then go ahead and file a petition. If you believe Christianity is true, and the unconstitutional displays on public ground remain proof that the government agrees with you, or taking them away would somehow harm your beliefs because the government did not also expressly believe them, I think you would have a bigger problem if the predominant cultural symbol was a crescent and star or a swastika or a pentagram. You wouldn’t want the government to endorse any other religion, so what makes yours out of bounds? Your “obelisk” example is reaching, and you know it.

           

  • Providence

    Why suddenly have the FFRF backed down?   Translation:  because they know that they can’t win now.   They can’t take advantage of a town nearing bankruptcy by instilling fear of a lawsuit that they could not pay for, and they insult the intelligence of the town’s people by presuming ignorance of the law.   They opened the door to this, and I say it should still go to court on the first amendment grounds where it will be proven that the monument is constitutional and should stay where it is, and get a facelift as well!

    Whether it was dedicated in 1921 or the ’50s is a moot point – it’s still a historical monument which is secular, regardless of the cross atop it.    50′s Red scare or no, we can’t look through the lense of the present and judge and change the past.   You can’t generalize what *individual* people who lost loved ones in a war did or did not believe and why.  It just isn’t up to  you.   People still hold fast to their faith, it just wasn’t a “50′s thing”.  Why can’t the FFRW and those like them just live and let live?   I don’t feel a religious symbol is an affront to me or endorsing a religion unless it is expressly done so.

  • Oeidirsceoil

    FFRF is a hate group; they hate Christians.  Why do they care if a cross gives people comfort?  Are they vampires?  Does the cross burn their skin? No, it is because they will not be happy until everyone believes their way, and acknowledge that ” there is no God”.  The lack of the cross will be a dedication to their “atheist” religion, which, according to them, would be a monument to their own belief.  A friend of mine, who is an atheist, says that the best thing about his “religion” is that he does not have to care what other people think.  He is not driven by hate and intolerance as is the FFRF.  FFRF would remove every cross from Arlington Cemetery if they could.  Is this the type of nonsense we need to put up with? Why don’t they do something productive, and open a soup kitchen and help the community and follow the example of the many, many Christian churches that are providing for their neighbors regardless of belief?  This I could respect.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Funny how they don’t seem to care about all the crosses on private property.  Just the ones on public property.

      And no, they would not remove crosses from individual graves.  Nor anything from any individual grave.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SN3MKT6IWZU43QCYDB36DRTQIU DennisR

    I’m an atheist and feel the cross is fitting as the Memorial
    is not for all Veterans but it is for the names on the monument.  I think if it was my name I would not have a
    problem with the cross seeing as it has been used for years to mark a fallen
    soldier.

  • Joe

    Why are all these groups offering to pay money for the legal defense. Why don’t they take the same money and buy the small plot of land it sits on and set up a charitable trust to maintain it. What is it, like 20 square feet? And the owner (government) is desperate to get rid of the controversy, so they’ll happily sell it (for fair market value, which has got to be really low in this case). The intentions are good, it just needs to be privately maintained on private land. There’s no way setting that up would cost more than the legal bills in defending it.

  • fuck atheists2

    All you atheists are snobby arogant bitches fuck off

  • 2hearts4life

    @2012 By Hemant Mehta : “You have forgotten God who gave you birth.”
    ~Dt 32:18a

  • Davethmedic2000

    You are a petty and pathetic little man….a hypocrit of the highest order. YOUR views are fine, no one else (and I mean a majority) can have a opposing view.

  • Patriot in RI

    I think that the FFRF and other groups like it are rendering our country less effective by trying to wipe clean anything of religious value that our  past countrymen deemed as needed and had held as truth, and not to be forgotten.   These groups make a mockery of our legal system by wasting our time and resources on such an agenda.   Why not volunteer at a soup kitchen and do an ounce of good instead?

  • Cat

    This country was founded on the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    Our founding fathers knew there was a GOD as the stated in the Declaration of Independence, when our GREAT Country was put under the protection of Divine Providence…..aka….GOD

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      Sure, sure.

      I think you’re forgetting a few things though. The Treaty of Tripoli, Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, the fact that the Constitution deliberately doesn’t talk about any creator or god, Madison’s fear of theocracy, and more.

  • Chowzee

    Not many people there care what God means anyways. To be honest, most people there are rude and don’t care about anything but themselves. They cannot comprehend what that cross stands for. I used to live there and I’m glad I’m gone. If your atheist, that’s your prerogative but, have some respect for the people’s beliefs. Oops, that won’t happen either because, they’ve given up respecting God, veterans who fought and compassion. I believe in God and what that memorial stands for. Removing this cross/memorial to me means, repenting from God. Knowing that God exists for some people or many keeps order, slows crime, gives people a reason to live a “What Would Jesus Do” lifestyle. All I’m saying is, if you feel you need to put in time to get this cross/memorial removed, then you need to figure out what your problem is.


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