Court should let cross stay in place

If the Bladensburg cross has to go, what’s next? If U.S. Supreme Court justices rule a cross erected to honor a group of men who gave their lives for our country cannot be on public land, what about similar situations? What about the small crosses in national cemeteries, marking the graves of some veterans?

Just after World War I, a group of people in Bladensburg, Md., decided to honor the 49 men from their area who had perished in the conflict. They erected a 40-foot, concrete cross with a plaque naming the war dead.

Now, a lawsuit has been filed, demanding the cross be dismantled. Plaintiffs say that, because it is on public land, it violates the “establishment clause” of the Constitution. That is the section that bans government from favoring one faith over another.

U.S. Supreme Court justices were to hear the case today.

Among those who say the cross should stand are officials from 29 states, including Ohio and West Virginia. Members of the coalition insist the case is a key one in safeguarding religious freedom.

It is. Government should not discriminate in favor of or against any particular religion. But the Bladensburg cross is merely what one community chose nearly a century ago to honor its war dead. Labeling it as government endorsement of Christianity is making a mountain out of a molehill.

Officials of the states defending the memorial are right: Leave the cross alone. Surely there are more clear and present dangers to liberty.