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“….there is no evidence in the record that the cross has been universally embraced as a marker for the burial sites of non-Christians or as a memorial for a non-Christian’s death….”

Near Interstate 40 in the Texas panhandle, on private property.

If it were on public property the Utah Highway Patrol Association could argue in court that it is a secular symbol.


@RepHartzler Rep. Vicky Hartzler

Sad day. The Supr. Ct. let stand a ruling to remove 14 roadside crosses in honor of fallen Utah state troopers. Religious liberty dies. 8 hours ago

[emphasis added]

That doesn’t read like Representative Hartzler buys the secular symbol argument either. There is the small matter of the Constitution:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion….

Religious liberty didn’t die. There’s nothing stopping anyone from placing a cross on their private property.

The Supreme Court denied [pdf] petitions for writs of certiorari, Justice Clarence Thomas dissenting.

From the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion [pdf]:


No. 08-4061.

— August 18, 2010

….Here, we conclude that the cross memorials would convey to a reasonable observer that the state of Utah is endorsing Christianity. The memorials use the preeminent symbol of Christianity, and they do so standing alone (as opposed to it being part of some sort of display involving other symbols). That cross conspicuously bears the imprimatur of a state entity, the UHP, and is found primarily on public land….

….The fact that the cross includes biographical information about the fallen trooper does not diminish the governmental message endorsing Christianity. This is especially true because a motorist driving by one of the memorial crosses at 55-plus miles per hour may not notice, and certainly would not focus on, the biographical information. The motorist, however, is bound to notice the preeminent symbol of Christianity and the UHP insignia, linking the State to that religious sign.

Moreover, the fact that all of the fallen UHP troopers are memorialized with a Christian symbol conveys the message that there is some connection between the UHP and Christianity….

….The parties agree that a cross was traditionally a Christian symbol of death and, despite Defendants’ assertions to the contrary, there is no evidence in the record that the cross has been universally embraced as a marker for the burial sites of non-Christians or as a memorial for a non-Christian’s death. The UHPA acknowledges that when it asserts that it would honor the request made by a Jewish state trooper’s family to memorialize him with a Star of David rather than a cross.

The State Defendants point to the use of crosses as markers for fallen soldiers as evidence that the cross has become a secular symbol of death. However, the evidence in the record shows that the military provides soldiers and their families with a number of different religious symbols that they may use on government-issued headstones or markers. Even in the American military cemeteries overseas, which include rows and rows of white crosses, fallen Jewish service members are memorialized instead with a Star of David. Thus, while the cross may be a common symbol used in markers and memorials, there is no evidence that it is widely accepted as a secular symbol….

It doesn’t appear that Representative Hartzler (r) understands the proffered arguments. Or, barring that, bothered to read the Tenth Circuit opinion. Go figure.  

The next thing you know Congress will be wasting its time reaffirming that “In God We Trust” is a motto. Oh, wait…