Federal judge blocks “Freedom is never free” monument.

In California a federal judge just put a stop to the construction of the monument because it was “unmistakably religious”.

A federal judge on Monday blocked a construction of a monument in southern California, ruling it would be an “unmistakably religious” symbol on public property.

The Lake Elsinore City Council unanimously approved the construction of the polished black granite memorial last year, which would depict a soldier kneeling in prayer before a Christian cross. The City Council planned to build the monument at the entrance of the Lake Elsinore Diamond Stadium, which is owned but not operated by the city.

Here’s what the monument would’ve looked like:

Picture of the freedom is never free monument.

It’s actually true.  Freedom costs a buck o’ five.

So we have a soldier kneeling in prayer before a Christian cross.  This seems, as the judge said, undeniably religious.  What was the city’s defense?

Though the monument would feature a Christian cross and Jewish Star of David, the City Council argued as a whole the monument communicated a secular message.

What part of praying to the god of the bible is a secular message?  I mean, I count nine crosses and two stars of David on that monument.  In what universe is that secular?

Fortunately, the judge wasn’t so willing to play dumb:

“The fact that the Latin crosses and Star of David do not dominate Monument 2 cannot take away from the unmistakably religious message they send to any objective viewer,” he wrote. “The Latin crosses and Star of David are immediately noticeable to even the most casual passer-by; they appear on the front of Monument 2, and, in contrast to the concededly non-sectarian images that appear on the front of Monument 2 — the text, the American flag, and the bald eagle — the sectarian symbols are illuminated in white.”

The City of Lake Elsinore has not said whether it will appeal the decision.


About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Zinc Avenger

    Well then, if the monument isn’t religious in nature they won’t mind taking out all the religious symbols.

  • invivoMark

    I hate when I confuse the words “secular” and “sectarian”, too.

  • Santiago Brin


  • Jason Koskey

    But I think the headstone crosses at Arlington have already been ruled to be a “secular” symbol by the courts. So now we have a weird situation where the headstones are ruled secular but a depiction of them on another monument is ruled religious.

    • Kevin R. Cross

      The headstones at Arlington are not crosses. There is a symbol on each that denotes the religion of the individual buried there, but the headstones themselves are not indicative of any religion.

      • Jason Koskey

        Ok, thanks for the correction.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003194979553 Leiningen’s Ants

    Take your pick, City of Lake Elsinore City Council~<3