“The sanctity of this cross is about the right to honor our nation's veterans in a manner which the overwhelming majority supports,” he commented in a Jan. 5 statement. “The American Legion strongly believes the public has a right to protect its memorials.”
Rev. John Fredericksen, a 56-year-old Christian pastor from Orlando, Fla., was a Jan 3. visitor to the Mount Soledad cross who was critical of the court ruling.
“For those who are offended, they can move or look somewhere else,” he told the AP. “Christians are not asking every mosque or synagogue to be torn down. Why tear down a symbol of Christianity? Let them find or make their own memorial.”
The court ruling rejected the notion that the cross was intended solely as a war memorial. It said that for most of its history the cross served as a site for annual Easter services. A plaque designating it as a war memorial was not added until the legal controversy began in the late 1980s.
The cross was dedicated not only to fallen soldiers, but also to Jesus Christ with the hope that it would be “a symbol in this pleasant land of Thy great love and sacrifice for all mankind.” The ruling also described cross supporters’ “starkly religious message” and the religious characterizations of their campaign.
The court said that La Jolla has “a history of anti-Semitism that reinforces the Memorial’s sectarian effect.” It cited local housing discrimination against Jews until the late 1950s and testimony that local residents of the time believed without thinking that being religious meant being Christian.
Foster said the American Legion intends to file an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of an appeal.
“Frankly, after having read the decision, I would say that it will take either the wisdom of King Solomon or the Supreme Court to resolve the issue,” he said.