In a 5 to 4 decision, the Supreme Court allows a war memorial cross to remain in a remote part of the Mojave Desert.
While I tend to affirm tradition, even when a new context would have us do something differently, I was shocked to hear one commentator defending the memorial say, "The cross is no religious symbol."
Well, if it isn't a religious symbol, what is it?
Let's be honest for a moment: our Jewish war dead are buried beneath the Star of David. And more often these days, we're finding the Crescent, to make the graves of Muslims.
The cross IS a religious symbol, but more than religion, it's also a symbol of state power - reflecting a time when the national governments of Europe were deeply connected to the state church - when Cross and Crown were linked together to maintain their bastions of power. In all the wars of Europe in the last thousand years, nation went to war with nation, each of them carrying the Cross of Christ.
Throughout Nazi Germany, the cross was a powerful symbol of German imperialism, even as the cross is a symbol of white supremacy here in the States. The cross is clearly a symbol, and what it sometimes represents is anything but the Man who died on it.
Certainly the cross, as religious symbol, captures the hopes of millions of Christians, but simultaneously, it represents bigotry and sufferings for millions of Jews and Muslims. If you have a question about this, ask your Jewish or Muslim neighbors.
In this day and age, we'd all think a little more thoroughly before erecting a single-symbol war memorial. And I would hope that Christians, long accustomed to being king of the hill here in America, will awaken to the new reality of our world and begin to exercise a greater sensitivity to our neighbors.
As for the war memorial, perhaps we could erect a field of symbols, including the Star of David and the Crescent, to name just a few.
Go HERE to see a list of authorized emblems for our National Cemeteries.
It's time for Christians to be honest about what the cross means to millions of people around the world, and rather than shoving it in people's faces, to show some restraint, some humility, and some basic kindness. What a great move it would have been for the erectors of that cross to voluntarily take it down and replace with a monument to honor all of our brave American soldiers.
We can do better!