A Crisis of Crosses
Sometimes no decision is the worst decision of all. The U.S. Supreme Court proved that yesterday when it refused to intervene at a defining moment for religious freedom in America. By a vote of 8-1, the justices chose to leave six states completely defenseless in the face of an aggressive campaign to uproot faith in the public square. For 13 years, Utah’s fallen highway patrolmen have been honored with roadside crosses as a way to mark the troopers’ sacrifice in plain sight of local drivers. American Atheists, Inc. took the state to court for allowing a private association to memorialize the officers with its own dollars. They argued that by permitting the crosses, Utah had publicly endorsed Christianity.
The case, which could have serious implications for national memorials and monuments, finally wound its way to the Supreme Court, where justices had the ultimate say in whether the crosses violate the Establishment Clause. At least 20 states, 15 members of Congress, and organizations from FRC to Mothers Against Drunk Driving urged the Court to take the case. Yet only Justice Clarence Thomas was willing. In almost 20 pages of dissent, he vigorously disagreed with his colleagues for leaving the issue alone. “It’s difficult to imagine an area of law more in need of clarity,” he wrote. “We should not now abdicate our responsibility to clean up our mess because these disputes, by our own making, are ‘factbound.’”
In obvious frustration, Thomas agreed that turning down the case “rejects an opportunity to provide clarity to an Establishment Clause jurisprudence in shambles.” Regardless of how others perceived it, Thomas agreed with the position of the Utah Highway Patrol Association, that, “Only the cross effectively and simultaneously conveyed the message of death, honor, remembrance, gratitude, sacrifice, and safety that the association wished to convey to the public.” Even Justice Anthony Kennedy agreed, as recently as April of 2010, “The goal of avoiding government endorsement does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm.”
If only he and other justices had taken this opportunity to prove it. Unfortunately for neighboring states, the Court’s refusal affects them too. Every state in the 10th Circuit’s jurisdiction–and that includes Utah, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Wyoming–is officially on notice. None of their crosses on public property will be tolerated either. And if this decision is ever applied nationally, as FRC’s amicus brief pointed out, Arlington National Cemetery and other landmarks would have to be completely dismantled. Of course, the irony is that these roadside crosses are not only constitutional, but they also represent the very values that our Constitution celebrates. Operating outside that basic truth, U.S. courts pose a greater threat to our liberties and security than America’s enemies. For more on the case itself–or lack thereof–don’t miss Ken Klukowski’s column in today’s Washington Examiner.
Note – Subsequent posting’s added link: The Founding Fathers erected several monuments of this nature–and they obviously didn’t see their Bill of Rights as a barrier to them! To join the national movement, click here. Add your name to the 25,000 who recognize that the U.S. Constitution celebrates religious liberty–not censors it!
Nursing a Grudge over Hospital Policy
This is the Left’s idea of “choice.” A health professional can either choose to participate in abortion or she can refuse and lose her job. Those were Lorna Jose Mendoza’s options. As a nurse at New Jersey ‘s University of Medicine and Dentistry, Lorna’s pro-life beliefs were never an issue. That all changed a few weeks ago when the hospital suddenly passed a new policy that “forc[ed] nurses to assist in abortions out of the blue.” When the nurses’ complaints fell on deaf ears, they filed suit. According to Alliance Defense Fund attorney Matthew Bowman, the employees are asking the U.S. District Court in New Jersey to pull the hospital’s $60 million in taxpayer funding until it respects workers’ conscience rights. Unfortunately, Lorna isn’t alone. Her case is bound to be one in a long line of legal challenges now that the Obama administration is clamping down on individual freedom.
The question is no longer whether President Obama will strip health care workers of their rights but how. In the last three years, the attacks have come in waves. First, his powerful Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary took a big bite out of President George Bush’s conscience protections. Then, most recently, the agency unleashed a new mandate, ordering private insurers to provide “free” birth control (including drugs like Plan B that can cause abortions) regardless of their moral views. Last month, HHS even pulled the rug out from under the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for a sex trafficking grant because it doesn’t promote the “full-range” of services (i.e. abortion and contraception) to the victims it helps. It’s no wonder Catholics are walking away from this President. The only question is: will they take their votes with them?
Today, dozens of pastors gathered in Chino Hills, California for a day-long session of information, motivation, and mobilization with FRC. These pastors heard messages, not just about their rights as American citizens, but their responsibilities as Christian leaders to be actively engaged in the transformation of our country. FRC Action’s Values Bus was there as well, after a great Harvest Fest at Calvary Chapel South Bay where I preached on Sunday. For more information about how your pastor(s) can connect with our growing national network, check out our Watchmen on the Wall website.