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The Peace Cross

November 3, 2019

The Peace Cross, Bladensburg, MD, Author Ben Jacobson (Kranar Drogin) (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

The Peace Cross (a 40 foot cross of concrete and granite displaying the words courage, valor, endurance, and devotion) is a memorial in Bladensburg, MD honoring those from Prince George’s County who died in WWI.  A cross-shape was chosen to echo the grave markers of servicemen buried overseas.  The names of 49 local men are inscribed.

Although the cross was originally built on private property using private funds, the land and monument were acquired by the State of Maryland in 1961 by reason of traffic concerns.

In 2017, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that public maintenance of the cross was contrary to the separation of church and state [1].

Earlier this year, the US Supreme Court overruled that decision:

“The cross is undoubtedly a Christian symbol, but that fact should not blind us to everything else that the Bladensburg Cross has come to represent…destroying or defacing the Cross that has stood undisturbed for nearly a century would not be neutral and would not further the ideals of respect and tolerance embodied in the First Amendment.”

–US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, The American Legion v. The American Humanist Society [2]

This confirms the Supreme Court’s prior acknowledgment that the Constitution does not “require complete separation of church and state; it affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any” [3].

No fewer than 6 of the 9 justices felt that future cases involving a monument should be decided on the basis of whether the government’s actions were supported by history and tradition.

[1]  Washington Post, “Towering cross-shaped monument on public land is unconstitutional, court rules” by Anne Marimow, 10/18/17, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/towering-cross-shaped-monument-on-public-land-is-unconstitutional-court-rules/2017/10/18/b26e4afe-5b47-11e7-9b7d-14576dc0f39d_story.html.

[2]  ABC 7 WJLA (Associated Press), “Supreme Court rules Bladensburg Peace Cross can continue to stand on public land” by Jessica Gresko, 6/20/19, https://wjla.com/news/local/supreme-court-rules-bladensburg-peace-cross-stand-public-land.

[3]  The Christian Lawyer, Vol. 15, No. 2/Fall 2019, pp. 29-31, “How American Legion Protects Religious Freedom” by Reed Smith citing Lynch v. Donnelly.

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse https://avoicereclaimed.com

5 Comments
  1. It is a beautiful monument, thank you for sharing Anna!
    So many want to remove Jesus from society..
    From what I understand, separation of church and state was intended to keep the government from ruling the churches.

    • You hit the nail on the head, Mary. So many want to remove Jesus from society, though He is our greatest hope.

  2. Reblogged this on Anchor Thy Soul and commented:
    The Peace Cross BY ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed.

  3. Thank you for pointing out that the Constitution does not require complete separation of church and state. This, as you well know, is often the war cry of those intent on removing all traces of Christianity from American society. I think it is very convenient to forget this fact when one is determined to eliminate Christ from the consciousness of America. Thankfully, there are still voices such as yours Anna (and the freedom to express those voices) who are willing to take a stand for the truth.

    • Like you, Ron, I fear there is increasing encroachment on our freedom of religion and freedom of speech. We must speak up while we still can.

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