Governor Palin on the “Concerted Effort to Banish Any Expression of Faith from the Public Square” – Update: A Local Perspective

Governor Palin posted the following to Facebook earlier:

Still think there isn’t a concerted effort to banish any expression of faith from the public square? Consider the attacks on veterans memorial crosses. Those who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedoms can’t even be honored with a symbol embodying one of those freedoms.

In “Good Tidings and Great Joy,” I mentioned a lawsuit taken against a World War I veterans memorial cross in California’s Mojave Desert. Here is the passage from the book (pages 30-31):

“In the 1930s, the Veterans of Foreign Wars put up a cross in the Mojave Desert— in an isolated area known as Sunrise Rock— to honor our brave soldiers who died in World War I. The modest cross, made out of eight-foot metal pipes painted white, sat on 1.6 acres of desert, 90 percent of which is federal land. Though it was ‘in the middle of nowhere,’ it meant such a great deal to many people. In 1983, when a World War I veteran lay on his deathbed, he asked his best friend, Henry Sandoz, to take care of the cross. And that’s exactly what Henry faithfully did every year after his friend’s death. Henry was in his seventies by the time Frank Buono, helped by the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a lawsuit claiming that this lovingly maintained old cross unconstitutionally promoted the Christian faith. As the case bounced from one court to another, the cross was enclosed with plywood, covered like an adult magazine in the back of a bookstore. Over the course of the court battle, which went all the way to the Supreme Court, it was even stolen. Finally, after eight long years of battling, the cross was able to remain on the land by transferring the property surrounding it to a private citizen.”

The Mojave Desert cross was saved, but today another veterans memorial cross in California didn’t survive litigation. The beautiful Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial cross in San Diego has been the subject of litigation for years. In 2004, Congress even passed a law protecting its right to exist as a national memorial to the brave men and women in uniform “who sacrificed their lives in the defense of the United States.” But apparently even Congress can’t stop angry atheists armed with attorneys. As I’ve said repeatedly in interviews about “Good Tidings and Great Joy,” the so-called “war on Christmas” is just the tip-of-the-spear in the larger efforts to strip God from the public square and banish all expressions of faith from public life. The Mt. Soledad cross decision is just the latest skirmish in this ongoing battle.

This is just more reason why we need to stand up for our constitution and the religious liberty it protects.

Read more about the Mt. Soledad cross decision here:

The American Center for Law and Justice put out the following statement about it:

(Washington, DC) – The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which focuses on constitutional law, said today a decision by a federal district court judge in California ordering the removal of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial is “deeply flawed” and promised to file an amicus brief in support of an expected appeal to keep the memorial – which includes a commemorative cross – in place.

“This latest decision in the long and winding legal road concerning the constitutionality of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial is deeply flawed,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ, which has been active for years in defending the constitutionality of the memorial and its cross. “The federal court decision declaring the memorial unconstitutional and ordering its removal does not square with the facts. This memorial is part of the historic landscape of San Diego and is consistent with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”

This new legal decision is the result of action that occurred in 2012 when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take the case, leaving in place a decision by the 9th Circuit declaring the memorial unconstitutional, and sending the case back to the trial court in San Diego. The ACLJ urged the Supreme Court to take the case at the time, filing an amicus brief representing 34 members of Congress.

And in an amicus brief filed in August 2013 with the U.S. District Court representing 18 members of Congress, the ACLJ urged the court to permit a private organization to obtain and operate the war memorial – a remedy that would remove any constitutional questions and keep the monument and cross in place.

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Larry Burns ruled that the memorial must be removed because it violates a constitutional ban on government endorsement of religion. “Deliberate language in the opinion makes it clear that removal of the large, historic cross is the only remedy that the Ninth Circuit conceives will cure the constitutional violation,” Burns wrote in his ruling.

Judge Burns ordered the memorial be removed within 90 days, but put that order on hold pending an expected appeal.

“We will continue to aggressively argue in support of this memorial and commemorative cross,” said Sekulow. We believe the law and precedent are clear: the Supreme Court has concluded in the past that ‘a Latin cross is not merely a reaffirmation of Christian beliefs. It is a symbol often used to honor and respect those whose heroic acts, noble contributions, and patient striving help secure an honored place in history for this Nation and its people.’ This memorial should not create a constitutional crisis. It is part of the history and heritage of the San Diego area.”

Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice focuses on constitutional law and is based in Washington, D.C.


Update by Stacy:

Jay Sekulow may reside in Washington D.C., but I can tell you that he is absolutely correct when he stated that the cross that sits atop Mt. Soledad is “part of the history and heritage of the San Diego area.” As many of you know, I live in San Diego. In fact, I live just a few miles from Mt. Soledad. I look at that cross on many days just driving through the city. I also frequent the cross often on a sunny day, or even stop by on a cloudy one to drop some money in the donation box to help the good people up there maintain the area. Many San Diegans do the same. We go to pay respect, look at the views, and take it all in.


View from up close. The cross is 29 feet tall and 12 feet wide.

Woods and DohertyMemorial plaques at Mt. Soledad to honor Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty who died in Benghazi, Libya during the attack on our diplomatic mission in 2012.

Aerial CameraMemorial plaques at Mt. Soledad honoring a World War II Naval Aerial Photographer. Check out the size of that camera!


Looking towards Downtown San Diego from atop Mt. Soledad via my not-so-great camera phone.

FlagA different angle (the flag wouldn’t cooperate).


The cross is part of our community. To have a federal judge rule to tear down such an important symbol of our heritage and our military is an affront to our city. The litigation will continue but I can assure all of you… That cross is not coming down without a fight from San Diegans. Just check out the poll on the San Diego Union Tribune’s website. Almost 80% (as of the time of this posting) are against removing the cross. We are not like other cities in this state. We are San Diego and we honor our military, or heritage, and our faith. We are not going to roll over and just let these “angry atheists armed with  attorneys” take down our monument to it all.


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