An atheist group’s attempt to remove a cross-shaped World War I monument in Maryland has garnered backlash from service members who view the case as an attack on American values and those who have died defending them.
The nearly 100-year-old Peace Cross, constructed between 1919 and 1925, faces potential demolition, pending a ruling from the Supreme Court, The Daily Signal reported.
Peace Cross in Bladensburg went up in 1925 to honor the soldiers from Prince George's County killed in the "War to end war" 100 years ago. The Supreme Court will now decide whether it can remain or as a religious symbol must be taken down. @ABC7News at 4. #VeteransDay18 pic.twitter.com/9v1qbYi32x
— Brad Bell (@ABC7Brad) November 12, 2018
This WWI Anniversary Could Be The Last For The Bladensburg Cross https://t.co/2STyAW5tZb
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) November 10, 2018
The controversy began in 2014, when the American Humanist Association filed a lawsuit to have the public memorial honoring 49 men from Prince George’s County, Maryland, who died serving in World War I, removed.
According to the secular group, taxpayer-funded government maintenance of the cross-shaped monument violates the First Amendment by promoting the religion of Christianity.
“It [the cross] is 40 feet tall; prominently displayed in the center of one of the busiest intersections in Prince George’s County, Maryland; and maintained with thousands of dollars in government funds,” Judge Stephanie D. Thacker wrote, as reported by The Daily Signal. “Therefore, we hold that the purported war memorial breaches the ‘wall of separation between Church and State.’”
But the defendants maintain that the monument was erected for the purpose of honoring the brave men who made the ultimate sacrifice. It’s primary message, they argue, is patriotic, not religious.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court agreed to rule on the case.
In the meantime, American veterans have weighed in — and they’re not pleased.