The purpose of Our Conscience weblog is to facilitate a greater discussion and understanding of church and state separation in our community and in others. Underlying this is the value that each individual should be allowed to follow the dictates of his or her own conscience without influence, coercion, or direction from the State when it comes to matters of religion.

Monday, December 06, 2004

WP: In Calif., Cross Site Stirs Discord

In Calif., Cross Site Stirs Discord
Church-State Separation Is Issue at Mount Soledad Memorial

By Kimberly EddsSpecial to The Washington PostMonday, December 6, 2004; Page A19

SAN DIEGO -- Perched high atop Mount Soledad in La Jolla, the towering white cross has sat as a memorial to veterans of the Korean War for half a century. It has also become a symbol of a divisive war between the city of San Diego and a local atheist over the issues of separation of church and state, free speech and freedom of religion.

When a ballot measure that would have allowed the city to sell the land was defeated in the November elections, it looked as though the debate was over. The 43-foot cross would be moved.

But two local congressmen have intervened with a proposition they say will keep the cross where it is.

Republican Reps. Randy "Duke" Cunningham and Duncan Hunter want the site -- which now includes more than 1,000 plaques honoring veterans -- named a national war memorial. They added the veterans memorial designation as a rider to a voluminous spending bill approved last month by Congress.

Under the bill, expected to be signed by President Bush soon, the site would become part of the National Park Service but would be maintained by the Mount Soledad Memorial Association, which built the cross as a tribute to veterans in 1954.

"It's a shaky proposition, but if it works, we would be eternally grateful," said William J. Kellogg, president of the memorial association.

Opponents say simply transferring the land to federal hands does not resolve the issue of separation of church and state.

"Crosses belong on churches, not in public parks," said lawyer James McElroy, who is representing atheist Philip Paulson in his efforts to see the cross removed. "It doesn't make any difference if it's on federal land, state land or city land. . . . The government should not be in the business of religion."

More here.


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