The City of Lake Elsinore Voted to Build a Monument Honoring Christian Soldiers and Now They’re Getting Sued

In April of last year, the City Council of Lake Elsinore, California talked about how nice it would be to honor local veterans with a monument. $50,000 was budgeted for the project and all the designs they considered in the following weeks seemed fairly typical for such a monument. They included the American flag, a bald eagle, the city’s crest, military branches’ emblems, etc.

In July, Mayor Pro Tem (i.e. vice mayor) Daryl Hickman suggested the monument be placed, not in the courtyard of City Hall, but near the entrance of Diamond Stadium, a city-owned minor league baseball stadium. The City Council agreed to the change and moved forward with a plan to build a redesigned monument… but the design that was eventually put forward in October featured a soldier kneeling in front of a Christian cross:

There were several objections from people who attended the October meeting, but Hickson saw no problem (PDF) with the proposal:

I feel sorry for us that we as Christians cannot show the cross because [of] the First Amendment… it really is a shame that our society is leaning that way.”

Councilmember Melissa Melendez agreed:

She stated that it was a “sad reflection on our society when as a Christian nation, one of the principles upon which we were founded is something we are forced to hide in society specifically with reverence to our veterans, the very people who have fought to protect our religious freedom. And now we have organizations who choose to take that opportunity of reverence away from us.”

Melendez admitted that the monument could be subject to a lawsuit, but added that the objectors in the audience should’ve spoken up months earlier… which they wouldn’t have since all the designs at that time were secular in nature.

The city’s lawyer, trying to talk some sense into his clients, was adamant that there was no way this would be legal:

“It’s a publicly funded [monument]… it goes back to the separation of church and state… you have public funds going into a public monument in a public location, and it demonstrates, arguably demonstrates, a religious preference.

A smarter City Council would’ve asked for a redesign of the monument with all the religious references removed.

Too bad the Lake Elsinore City Council is not a smart group of people.

They requested a redesign in November but kept the cross in the image. In fact, they requested more crosses be added to the design. Then, just to prove they weren’t only promoting Christianity, they added a single Star of David to the design, thinking it’d make everybody happy.

Because that makes perfect sense.

That version of the design was approved unanimously, so this is what they plan to build in front of the stadium:

During this entire process, local residents, the American Humanist Association (AHA), and the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF) all warned councilmembers that they were violating the Constitution, but their warnings were ignored.

In fact, the AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center even pointed out to the City Council last November why the crosses (even with a Star of David) weren’t permissible:

This letter should not in any way be misread to imply that those who support the separation of church and state in general, or AHA in particular, seek in any way to diminish the sacrifice of the soldiers intended to be honored by the Memorial. It does them, and us all, a great disservice, however, to conflate patriotism and religion. A Christian cross (or a cross plus a Star of David) does not represent all of the war dead; it is not the marker chosen by Hindus, Muslims or Buddhists, nor by atheists, agnostics, humanists or other nonbelievers. They are inherently sectarian symbols. The state cannot choose such religious symbols to stand for all of the fallen. To do so is to denigrate the service of those who have not chosen those religions, relegating them to second class citizen status.

But, like I said, the warnings were ignored and the City plans to move forward with the Monument to Christian Soldiers.

So the AHA was left with no choice but to sue the city of Lake Elsinore to prevent it from building the monument:

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

The City Council members are perfectly aware they’re breaking the law — they were told why many times over — yet, they’re still defending this Christian monument. They don’t give a damn that there are Muslim, Hindu, atheist, or any non-Christian or non-Jewish soldiers.

They don’t care that they’re breaking the law because a Christian group (the Pacific Justice Institute) has offered to defend them for free — though, if the city loses the case, it’s the local taxpayers who will be on the hook for any potential damages and attorneys’ fees for the AHA’s side.

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.

  • busterggi

    Have the council members claimed to be persecuted yet? Because you know they want to.

  • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

    “I feel sorry for us that we as Christians cannot show the cross because [of] the First Amendment… it really is a shame that our society is leaning that way.”

    Oh, yes. Poor Christians– I feel so terrible for them. You never see churches have a cross as part of their architecture any more, or people erecting crosses on private land, or displaying Christian symbols on their car or t-shirts or signs, or wearing a cross around their necks, or…

    It’s a terrible, Godless society we live in, for sure *shakes head sadly*. Pity the poor oppressed Christians!

    • phiggy

      make sure to put in tags or they will see you as a sympathetic element for their argument….

  • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

    I actually feel bad for the town’s lawyer. He knew what was up, told them not to do it, and wasn’t listened to.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Don’t feel too bad. He’ll still get paid either way.

      • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

        However when his job term comes up they might fire him because he told them about reality rather than reaffirming their fantasies. They think they live in a “Christian nation” rather than a free nation, and they think that “freedom of religion” means they are free to use all taxpayers’ money to promote their and only their religion. After they lose the lawsuit, he will be a constant “I told you so” to them even though he probably won’t be trying to do that.

  • A3Kr0n

    Aren’t there more important fish to fry? Ya, it’s wrong, but a cross is a traditional symbol for a headstone. I think the message was quite clear. Ever see Flander’s Field?
    Will we be suing Arlington cemetery, too? They have those symbols on the actual headstones. There’s even an atheist symbol!
    http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/emblems.htm
    I hope the FFRF isn’t wasting money on this lawsuit. I’d better check…

    • Stev84

      Arlington would be wrong too if every headstone were cross-shaped (like they used to be). Now everyone gets a headstone in a neutral form and a symbol of choice.

      This monument would be fine if they just replaced the crosses with normal headstones. The over-the-top patriotism would still be annoying, but that’s something else.

    • curtcameron

      ???

      The cross is a traditional symbol for a Christian headstone. For non-Christians, not so much.

      Plus, in this example you have the declared intentions of the city councilors to promote Christianity. Sure, this one monument won’t be hurting me here in Texas, but we have to fight all of them, or the country will be overrun with this sort of thing.

      • baal

        I would be put out to find a cross on my headstone.

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

          I’d consider it just cause for a haunting.

    • BrandonUB

      Aren’t there more important fish to fry?

      Sure, but there’s more than one deep fryer and plenty of oil.

      I hope the FFRF isn’t wasting money on this lawsuit.

      So, a private organization “wasting” money on a suit that’s consistent with their aims bothers you, but a city wasting money on a sectarian monument that they’ve been told they’ll be sued for doesn’t? /boggle

    • Artor

      You’re joking, right? The headstones represent the individuals under them, not the gov’t that got them killed. After years of lawsuits, they now provide faith-specific headstones for a variety of religions. The pagans got their pentagram approved a few years ago, and now even the Asatru can have their own faith-appropriate marker.

      • A3Kr0n

        I’m not sure if I’m joking, let’s say I’m not. I don’t want the atheist movement to turn into an over-the-top group like so many other groups have become, like some of the animal rights organizations that get all worked up over fruit fly research. I think we should be concentrating our efforts on the bigger issues, which we are, but I think spending money on this issue dilutes our efforts. I also hope someone here finds it refreshing that not everybody bobbles their head in agreement to everything that is written.

        • C Peterson

          Screw the atheist movement (whatever that is). This has nothing- absolutely nothing- to do with atheism.

        • The Other Weirdo

          Check. You’re objecting for the sake of feeling like an objector. Understood.

          That said, there are no big issues. All of them are like this, every single one. They’re all small, they’re only big collectively, but they can’t be fought collectively, only individually.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          I think we’re at the stage at which we can’t afford to let those who would ignore the establishment clause get away with anything. Those of us who think the establishment clause is vital to defend are the ones defending the free exercise clause that everyone cherishes.

          (edit: damn typos)

          • WoodyTanaka

            “Those of us who think the establishment clause is vital to defend are the
            ones defending the free exercise clause that everyone cherishes.”

            Not everyone. I think that the free exercise clause jurisprudence is way out of whack, as it permits parents to negatively affect their children on free exercise grounds. I would like to see reasonable restrictions on the free exercise of religion as it relates to minors.

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              Agreed.

        • Bill Santagata

          As Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in her concurrence to Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow: “There are no de minimus violations of the Constitution—no constitutional harms so slight that the courts are obliged to ignore them.”

          The addition of the Star of David makes this a toss-up case, as the monument could be depicting the Normandy Military Cemetery in France (or any similar cemeteries abroad), depicting, for example, in the film Saving Private Ryan. However, our military has become much more religiously diverse since World War II, and a modern day military monument (especially one not dedicated to World War II) would have a responsibility to be more cognizant of this diversity.

    • C Peterson

      What fish could possibly be more important to go after than government entanglement with religion? Every time something like this is allowed to slide, it will be used as precedent for even more egregious violations. These incidents have to be handled with a zero-tolerance policy.

      Crosses are the symbols used for the graves of Christians. You can bet that if Arlington required a cross over every grave, we’d be suing them! This is a monument to soldiers of all beliefs, erected by the government. It cannot feature a cross (especially in such a prominent fashion).

    • The Other Weirdo

      As a Jew and an atheist, if anybody installs a headstone over my disembodied head with its mouth stuffed full of garlic and engraves a cross on it, I would be highly insulted and mortified. It won’t matter, of course, since I’ll be dead and beyond care and only vampire children will know, but still.

    • A3Kr0n

      This is an example if “big fish” frying
      “Boy Scouts March In Uniform At Utah Gay Pride Parade”
      http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/06/03/188308263/boy-scouts-march-in-uniform-at-utah-gay-pride-parade?ft=1&f=1001

      • ragarth

        You’re an example of someone who has no business trying to spot (imaginary) splinters in the eyes of others when there’s still a beam in your own.

        • WetCoastAtheist

          hope you don’t mind, but I stole your comment. :)

    • beatonfam

      The headstones at Arlington represent an individual person and their personal beliefs. One has a choice of symbols (or not) to have on their personal tombstone. The issue here is that this Christian symbol is on a public monument meant to represent ALL soldiers–except the chosen design only represents one population. My personal issue is that it appears council members were directed by several constituents to a more neutral design yet marched headlong with purpose in the opposite direction. No one is telling them they cannot have the monument. No one is telling them they cannot stand in front of the monument and hold whatever prayer they choose in their heart. What they are being told is they may not exclusively put their religious symbol on the monument.

    • WoodyTanaka

      “Aren’t there more important fish to fry?”

      No. If you don’t kill the saplings when they’re small, you won’t be able to do as easily when they’re giant trees. In my opinion, monuments and school curricula are the two biggest fish to fry, because bigotry flourishes on the local level (which is why conservatives always try to empower local government at the expense of state and national government), and the harder they’re hit, the less likely they will be to act out in the end.

      • David S.

        With monuments, after they get placed, people always rant about how they’ve been there so long and are traditional. Heck, they’re already saying that it’s too late to change.

    • A3Kr0n

      Thank you for all your input, and for not swearing too much at me :-)

      • ragarth

        “Thank you for all your input.” as a closer when your initial post was not an inquiry for input is the polite equivalent of a ‘Fuck you’ discussion exit when you can’t defend your premise. Just an fyi.

  • Brian Westley

    It’s so easy to fix too, just change the cross to a traditional battlefield marker with a rifle stuck bayonet first into the ground with the helmet on top. Not to mention a lot more respectful than an infinity of crosses.

    • BrandonUB

      It’s almost like they’re actually actively trying to insult non-religious people. If I didn’t know better…

      • Aegis

        Have there been any examples lately of public veterans’ monuments that *haven’t* suffered a hijack attempt by people who want to use the thing to show the heathens who’s in charge?

    • SeekerLancer

      I thought the exact same thing.

      But you and I both know they’re less interested in honoring the dead than they are begging for legal action so they can cry persecution.

  • Verimius

    Why not a so-called “battlefield cross” on the monument? This is the rifle stuck muzzle-down in the ground, helmet on top and boots beneath. It still represents a fallen soldier, while being religiously neutral.

    • Katbear

      They would probably claim that would cost too much to put on the monument, that the cross is a lot simpler, less lines, etc. But it doesn’t realtl wash when repeat it over and over again…

      • phantomreader42

        They already HAVE a rifle and a helmet on it now! To make that excuse would be an obvious and shameless lie. Then again, obvious and shameless lying is standard operating procedure for christianists…

  • https://agoldstardad.wordpress.com/ Fozzy

    This would have been lovely and a lot more meaningful had they use a “battle cross” instead of the actual cross.. but of course.. they mucked it up!

  • Artor

    Small town communities take note! This is what happens when you elect close-minded bigots to your city council; they ignore the Constitution and risk tens of thousands of your tax dollars on doomed attempts to show everyone how Xtian they are. When you lose the case and have to start cutting essential services to pay the completely unnecessary court costs, you have only yourselves to blame, since you were the ones who elected the bigots to represent you.

    • The Other Weirdo

      Easy. Just raise taxes. Then they can still fondle their martyr complexi and maintain services. problem solved.

      • Spuddie

        And they will look forward to the higher taxes because it supposedly keeps “those people” out of the community.

    • griffox

      As a member of a small town community, I have to defend myself. You assume that we are given a choice between close-minded bigots and open-minded bigots. In a lot of places, all of the candidates are close-minded bigots. Furthermore, I can not be held responsible if 9/10 people vote close-minded and I was the one who voted open-minded. I don’t agree that you should hold the entire community responsible for the mistakes of the majority, nor should the elected close-minded bigots not be challenged when they do something unconstitutional.

  • MaxMinton

    Exhibit Z: Anyplace in California more than 25 miles from the ocean is Oklahoma.

    • Guest

      same here in Florida. But I’d go with Texas over OK.

    • JET

      Verified. The most accurate map of California I have ever seen. Although we prefer to think of the central valley as basically Texas.

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      As a native Californian, I obj– …Wait, lemme check something… Okay, I live just inside 25 miles from the ocean, so yeah, you’re right.

  • C Peterson

    There is something fitting about the image, though: a soldier vomiting into his helmet when confronted by the betrayal of his own country. He swore to defend a Constitution that those who sent him to die have no respect for.

  • Seamus Ruah

    >Ralph Zunker, of American Legion Post 200, and other speakers who
    >favored keeping the cross said it didn’t represent just Christianity.
    >Zunker said the depiction of a solider kneeing before the cross
    >represented a veteran honoring a fallen colleague.

    >”These people need to go and find another place to live other than America,” >Zunker said of the cross’s critics.

    Such a great patriot, he seems to have forgotten a very basic lesson.

  • lorimakesquilts

    What’s the point in having a lawyer if you’re not going to listen to legal advice? Fools. I hope the judge slams them hard. These cases need to get very expensive just for the sheer stupidity of them.

  • Lee Eddy

    Quick correction: The councilwoman who chimed in is Melissa MELENDEZ, not Menendez. She’s since gone on to the California Assembly, which is why—I think—she’s not named in the lawsuit.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      Whoops — Fixed! Thanks.

  • Timmah

    As a Padres fan, I am deeply annoyed that the city decided to plop this down in front of our single-A clubs ballpark. I’m guessing the version with the crosses will not be happening tho.

  • WoodyTanaka

    I would like to see states pass a law which states that if local government goes ahead with these type of monuments, against the opinion of their counsel, that the individuals who voted for the monument would bear entirely the cost of defending the monuments and paying any and all damages, and where representation is offered for free, that, if the government loses, those who voted would be required to pay into the government treasury the equivalent value of those legal services.

    Make them pay and maybe they’ll learn the law.

  • WoodyTanaka

    This is an ugly, ugly monument. Remember when people actually created art for public consumption?? Instead we get this garbage. It’s like someone carved a bad country song into granite, complete with patriotic lies and clip art. If you’re going to put one of these things up (and really, aren’t there enough of these monuments around?), at least find someone with a little artistic ability to do the job.

    • Willy Occam

      Damn straight! The aesthetic sensibilities of the “artist” are almost offensive as the overt religiosity. I guess the visual equivalent of Hallmark card “poetry” is what the masses want….

  • Tony

    Actually, given that they were warned by the city attorney, and by numerous groups, but still chose to go with the religious monument, everybody that voted for it could be sued as individuals and not representatives of an organization. Their actions should qualify for the gross negligence exemptions of holding a group liable for the actions of it’s members.

  • Thomas J. Lawson

    If only the founder of Lake Elsinore were around. Perhaps he could give them some advice…

    http://goo.gl/bXXai

    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=45855823

    • Isaac

      Nice find

  • compl3x

    I love how they doubled down. “Take out the cross? Fuck that! We’ll add more damn crosses!”

  • eric

    It is interesting that the council’s lawyer told them explicitly that it was illegal. That could potentially mean that the individuals are liable/can be sued, because the ‘civil servant’ defense only works when you think you are obeying the law or doing your legal job. If you know you aren’t or if the court thinks it was obvious to you that you weren’t, then claiming you can’t be sued because you work for the government (and so it’s the government that must be sued) no longer washes.

  • KruJon

    It’s obviously just supposed to symbolise a gravestone. Duh! Have none of you ever been to a military cemetery? why not show some respect and go visit one and see what symbol appears on the stones? Sounds like ya’ll are really concerned about our fallen soldiers! Is that what we call open-mindedness?…”Honour the dead my way, or don’t honour them at all…even if I don’t give a shit about them”

    • allein

      You mean like Arlington, where you might encounter all of these symbols on people’s headstones? http://tinyurl.com/kanyvfs

      Individual headstones represent individual soldiers; they or their families can choose which religious symbol (if any) to use. This monument is supposed to represent all soldiers; it should not have any one (or even two) religion’s symbols on it.

      Also, the fact that they had several secular designs to choose from, and were informed that including the crosses was illegal, and still insist on pressing forward with this particular design, kinda gives away their true purpose here.

      • KruJon

        True, now we can order headstones over the internet, but not every fallen soldier buried under a cross is religious. the point is, I see a soldier kneeling beside his fallen comrade’s gravestone, you see a religious symbol and it stirs up hatred. I would walk by the monument and feel respect for soldiers who have sacrificed their lives, you would see your civil liberties infringed because the symbol of the gravestone came from some ancient story about some guy who sacrificed his life for someone else. who’s missing the point here?

        • allein

          What does the ability to order headstones over the internet have to do with anything? And no, not every soldier under a cross was religious; that’s irrelevant to what is appropriate on a public monument. It used to be that everyone got a cross; it is no longer the case and if a soldier was not religious but their family is, they may still opt for a cross…not like the solder has a say at that point. And it’s not about whether they are religious, necessarily; it’s about whether or not they are Christian, which, if they were of another religion, their family isn’t going to choose a cross, now, are they?
          .
          It does not stir up “hatred.” I don’t hate Christians. Exasperation is probably more accurate. We do not live in a Christian nation, this is a public monument, and religious symbols are innapropriate if you truly want to represent all soldiers. There are other ways to depict a gravestone than by using a symbol specific to any one religion.
          .
          As for who’s missing the point, I’m gonna go with those who refuse to understand this concept that public monuments paid for by tax money should be secular. Also, those who were informed by their city lawyer that this would be challenged and who decided to waste city time and money by pushing forward with it anyway because they just can’t fathom that they are wrong.

          • KruJon

            Whether someone is religious or not was just in response to your comment about choosing a headstone. You would be a better judge of what it has to do with anything. irrelevance aside, you are right that if they were advised against it, it’s a waste of taxpayer $$, but that doesn’t seem to really be the issue here, as we are advocating wasting more taxpayer $$ by filing a lawsuit. So what is really at the root of the antagonism?

            • phantomreader42

              KruJon, did you miss the fact that the death cultists you’re so desperate to defend are BREAKING THE LAW, and are fully aware that they are doing so? They think they can get away with it because their cult has taught them that they and they alone determine the acceptable way to honor the dead, and that way is to use their corpses as props to advertise christianity with stolen tax money.

              Oh, wait, no, you didn’t miss that, you’re just lying through your teeth as usual.

            • allein

              My comment about headstone symbols was because you wrote, “why not show some respect and go visit one and see what symbol appears on the stones?”, implying that all military cemeteries use crosses on all headstones, which is clearly not true.
              .
              If they were interested in avoiding waste of taxpayer money, they shouldn’t be breaking the law. They should listen to the city lawyer and use a different design; the fact they they are going forward with this particular sectarian design, after having it made clear to them that it is unconstitutional, makes it clear that their real goal is advancing their religion, not honoring dead soldiers. It’s not the fault of the people filing the lawsuit that the defendants refuse to comply with the law.
              .
              You seem to be implying that the waste of taxpayer money is the fault of the plaintiffs, not the fault of the government officials who are knowingly breaking the law. That’s messed up.

    • phantomreader42

      Your sick death cult’s idol does not honor the dead at all. It honors only your bloated ego. It is an insult to those who gave their lives in defense of the Constitution you and your fellow death cultists so despise.

      • KruJon

        why is it “my sick death cult”? all I said was that it’s obviously a gravestone. When I buried my dog as a kid I used the same symbol. it’s just what gravestones look like. Why the seething hatred. Aren’t we wanting to promote tolerance for everyone? It’s hatred like yours, whether religious or non-religious, that is the reason we even have monuments like these. And how is it that you speak for every fallen soldier? I find that way more offensive, as I’m sure most of the families of those fallen soldiers do too, than any religious symbol. I don’t think anyone gave their lives so that people like you could be free to stir up hatred. Do you really even care about them?

        • phantomreader42

          No, it is NOT “just what gravestones look like”, as has already been repeatedly explained to you. Which means you are LYING. Isn’t that imaginary god of yours supposed to have some sort of problem with bearing false witness?

          • KruJon

            I’m not religious, just not easily offended. Sounds like you could use a little religion in your life, though, might help balance you out.

            • phantomreader42

              Since we’ve already established that you’re a liar, why should anyone believe you when you lie to manufacture some flimsy excuse to defend christianist frauds who want to insult dead veterans and waste tax money to promote their cult?

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            He’s not so much LYING as simply ignorant (aka lacking knowledge). He is blinded by Christian privilege from having grown up in a society where his particular death cult got special considerations. Yes, it’s been explained, but that kind of lifetime indoctrination takes time to throw off.

            KruJon, there are plenty of soldiers who have given their lives who were NOT Christians. Or even Jews. That memorial is a slap in the face to every single one of them. Let’s take Pat Tillman as a shining example. What gravestone do you think best represents Pat Tillman?

            • phantomreader42

              Rich, at this point KruJon’s ignorance is clearly willful. Deliberately choosing to remain ignorant of readily available facts is lying, to yourself if nothing else.

    • eric

      I’ve been. The current standard that the military uses is a rectangular marker with the person’s choice of symbol embossed on it. Like this. This sort of marker is also the historical standard; you see that oblong everywhere, from 16th century graves to Halloween decoration stores. If LE wanted to use oblongs, nobody would be complaining.

      IMO the only ones insisting on “their way” here are the LE Christians. Hemant already mentioned the wide variety of acceptable symbols that people suggested (eagles, flags, etc.), and posters on this forum have suggested a few more (helmet on rifle, etc.). So it seems that its us that are open to a wide variety of various monuments – just with the caveat that they not endorse one religion over others. Its YOU that insists the moment must endorse your religion to be acceptable.

      • KruJon

        I’m not endorsing anything, but It’s interesting that I’m labeled religious because I’m not easily offended. Is that the standard for the true atheist? The picture is to depict a man by a grave. I don’t think it would communicate very well to have a soldier kneeling beside an eagle, do you?

        • phantomreader42

          KruJon, you are defending christianists seeking to hijack the government and steal tax money to promote their religion on public property. You are defending government establishment of religion. It is highly unlikely that an atheist would do that, unless they were an incredibly stupid, cowardly suck-up who thought they could benefit from treating other atheists as second-class citizens. It’s both more likely and more charitable to assume you’re simply a lying christianist, since the people who make the idiotic arguments you make are almost always lying christianists.

        • freemage

          KruJon: Several folks here have suggested an alternative, already–a rifle, bayonet down, helmet at the top and boots at the base. It’s a common battlefield memorial, and would be just as iconic without any religious symbolism. Furthermore, the story points out that the individuals responsible for the change support doing it for religious reasons, not just because of the symbolism of a gravesite, so your argument otherwise is kinda BS.

  • Michelle

    How can you bow down to a being that you also believe sent you to war in the first place? If I were a veteran I would find this ridiculously insulting.

  • Katbear

    If the stadium is privately owned, I suppose they could get away with this. But, if it is publicly owned and operated with any state and/or federal funds, they can’t. Although the state might have a different point of view than the federal constitution, the Civil War supposedly ended that sort of “state’s rights” business, I hope…

    • Space Cadet

      The monument itself is being paid for through public funds, so it doesn’t matter where it’s placed, public or private property.

  • Elin’s Art

    I used to live and teach in Lake Elsinore. That grown people with supposed educations can actually behave like this is only a reinforcement of why I am an atheist. Religion makes inherently smart people behave in incredibly stupid ways.

  • Alicia Hansen

    *sigh* I just got done listening to my coworker rant about this as she lives out there in Lake Elsinore. Typical for the Inland Empire. I expect this for Temecula and Murrieta, but I guess not much of a surprise for Lake Elsinore. This area has so many churches it’s ridiculous (and keep in mind, it’s only fifteen minutes from where a city fought to keep a mosque out).

  • the moother

    anyone pointed out that it’s a terrible, terrible looking memorial?

  • http://guerrillaskepticismonwikipedia.blogspot.com/ Susan Gerbic

    How exciting. The GWoS (Guerrilla skepticism on Wikipedia) team has just finished the rewrite of the MAAF’s Wikipedia page. We know that when they are in the news they will also receive hits to their Wikipedia page. And we are waiting for those readers with a beautiful professional page.

  • BenFromCA

    “A smarter City Council would’ve asked for a redesign of the monument with all the religious references removed.”

    I live right down the road from Lake Elsinore and there’s plenty of evidence that the City Council member are brain-dead idiots. L.E. is one of the few Inland Empire cities that had a large, beautiful (well, it was before the CC got involved) lake. Many years ago, the city squandered a huge amount of taxpayer dollars that was originally slated for a “Lake Revitalization” project. The project never got off the ground, the money was spent on other expenses and now the lake is a polluted, unusable cesspool. The more affluent citizens have long-since moved out and L.E. is now a gang-infested slum.

  • http://guerrillaskepticismonwikipedia.blogspot.com/ Susan Gerbic

    FYI check out the Lake Elsinore’s Wikipedia page under politics. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Elsinore,_California

  • DougI

    It’s at a sports stadium? Then it would be best served if they put a urinal in it. That way it will have some value.

  • phantomreader42

    This ugly idol is not a war memorial. A war memorial is built to honor veterans. This idol insults them. Pretending that this tacky graven image represents all veterans is an insult to every atheist, every jew, every muslim, every hindu, every pagan, every non-christian of any variety who risked their lives in service of this country and of the Constitution the christianist death cult so despises. It is a denial of their service, their sacrifice, their very existence. And it’s an insult to every christian veteran with the slightest shred of respect for their felllow soldiers, their oath, their country, or basic human decency (as hard as it is to believe sometimes, such christians DO exist, though obviously there aren’t many in Lake Elsinore).

  • Sigh

    STOP FORCING ME TO INCLUDE AND RESPECT EVERYBODY!!

  • Carpinions

    Cue most or all of the following over this issue:

    “Ugh! You see?! Political correctness run amok! Any time someone wants to honor our troops, somebody has a problem with it! The atheists are trying to sue to tear down this monument! We we say, if you don’t like it, don’t look at it! This is a Christian nation! We need to stand up for Jesus and our troops, who are being attacked mercilessly even in death! This is so-called freedom of speech abridging freedom of speech! The majority is being drowned out by the minority! The easily offended are being given preference over good people! This is the long arm of the overreaching government! We’re no longer free to worship or practice our religion!”


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