Cross purposes

Cross purposes

I find it ironic that Nat Lewin remembers Justice Scalia fondly as “the Jewish Gentile.” (“Remembering Scalia, the ‘Jewish gentile’,” Feb. 18.) He must have forgotten the Supreme Court ruling on April 28, 2010, in which it was ruled that a cross is not a symbol of Christianity, but a symbol of the resting place of all dead. The background: In the 1930s, the Veterans of Foreign Wars put up a cross in the Mojave National Preserve in California as a war memorial. No other religious group is allowed to put up symbols in the area. Ten years ago, a former employee of the National Park Service sued,  saying this was a violation of the establishment clause of the first amendment.

During the Supreme Court hearing, Justice Antonin Scalia expressed the absurd notion that the cross is not a symbol of Christianity. When a journalist pointed out to Scalia that the cross is the most  common symbol of the resting place of Christians, that there is never a cross on a tombstone, for instance, of a Jew, Justice Scalia said: “I don’t think you can leap from that to the conclusion that the  only war dead that that cross honors are the Christian war dead. I think that’s an outrageous conclusion. The cross was erected as a war memorial. I assume it is erected in honor of all of the war dead. The cross is the most common symbol of the resting place of the dead,” not just Christians.

What intelligent person can believe this? And, especially a Supreme Court justice, when the First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state and forbids the  government to show preference of one religion over another.

We must continue to make sure this monumental amendment is maintained so that the United States ensures the freedom of religion for all of our citizens.

Nita Polay Levin

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