In our culture the story of Jesus dying on the cross has become representative of self-sacrifice. Lots of people don’t believe in Jesus’ deity, his resurrection, or the power of his death to have any role in God’s forgiving sins. But they do see his death as a willing martyrdom.
Lots of Christians have wanted to be buried, and have buried fellow Christians, in places with the symbol of the cross. Some of these Christians have fought and died defending the United States. These people have been honored by being buried in public cemeteries dedicated to killed veterans.
It would be a strange kind of “honor” that stripped away these heroes’ Christian faith and forced them to lie in secular graves.
But that is exactly what some atheists are trying to do. The Daily Caller reports,
An atheist group won’t give up the fight to have a 1925 World War I Memorial taken down because it has “personally offended” some atheists.
The WWI veterans memorial in Bladensburg, Md., is a 40-foot cross on a roadway median, and at the bottom has the words “This Memorial Cross Dedicated To The Heroes of Prince George’s County Who Gave Their Lives In The Great War For The Liberty Of The World.” American Humanist Association (AHA) filed a legal complaint in February of 2014 that cites several members of the AHA who live near the monument, including Steven Lowe. Lowe is “personally offended” by the cross and demands it be taken down. The court ruled against the atheist group in November, but the AHA announced Monday it would appeal.
“As a non-Christian, Mr. Lowe is personally offended and feels excluded by this governmental message,” the complaint reads. “He opposes this appearance of governmental favoritism for religion and for a particular religion, Christianity. Because it is a memorial for fallen soldiers who died as patriots not missionaries or crusaders, Mr. Lowe believes a more fitting symbol of their sacrifice would be a symbol of the Nation for which they fought and died, not a particular religion.”
How is the nation a symbol of anyone’s sacrifice? If we asked people at random what is a popular symbol that represents self-sacrifice–giving up one’s life for others–even unbelievers would say the cross. In fact, plenty of secular people wear the cross on their person.
The Christians who died may not have been fighting directly for Christianity. But their motive in fighting was that they believed their cause was just and that their duty as Christians was to die if necessary.
So now the First Amendment means the cross must be taken from their burial place because an atheist is offended by it. As I wrote about the censoring of Christmas in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the First Amendment has been turned into the opposite of itself.