• Aug 19, 2010
A federal appeals court has ruled that crosses set up alongside public roads in Utah to honor fallen state troopers are unconstitutional. The Utah Highway Patrol Association began erecting the privately-owned crosses over a decade ago, each with the trooper's name, badge number and the state seal. Despite not being owned by the state itself, the crosses reside on public land where drivers have no choice but to see them. That, combined with the state insignia was enough for the court to decide that the crosses had to go.

Texas-based American Atheists originally sued to have the nonprofit program discontinued and won, though the crosses were allowed to remain standing as the case went through the appeals process. Meanwhile, the UHPA argued that its message wasn't necessarily a religious one. The court sided with the American Atheists, saying that the size of the crosses and their location didn't gel with the government's need to remain neutral on religion.

[Source: CNN | Image: Pay No Mind CC 2.0]


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  • 158 Comments
      Nomar
      • 4 Years Ago
      Better be careful how to use of the separation of church and state realities. That wording is not in the constitution. Also the true wording should be altered as Religious radicals will use it to justify killings by stoning as allowed by Muslims and other killimgs by familits for dishonor by a family member or because one left the faith or refused to join their faith.. It is possible if we allow Sharia law or other brands of religious law to be used in our Country. Regardless of what the President says, We are and will always be a Christian Nation. We were founded and the constitution written ased on Judeo, Christian principals.




      • 4 Years Ago
      Why blame Obama for this?? This case was an appeal which which Utah had lost long before Obama became President brought by a private organization GEESH
        • 4 Years Ago
        Because they need someone easy to blame for their problems. There have been a lot more people running around worrying about conspiracy theories since November 2008, so they indulge their delusions because it makes them feel like they have a clue.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Goes perfectly with all the news on the mosque at ground zero :rolling eyes:
      • 4 Years Ago
      I would hope there are private landowners just beyond the public land but very much visable from that point that would allow these crosses to be put on their land so we can honor those that perished in the line of duty. It is just idiotic that a Christian has no rights anymore in this country. Let them forbid it on public property but if you own private property near any of those places you should welcome the crosses.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm sure if the victim's family would have objected to the cross at the memorial marker the highway patrol association would have taken it down. That's the main issue at hand, remembering the fallen officer and the needs of the families behind that person.

      I'm a Christian and Jesus has done great things in my life. That said, I know there are some who don't want to hear the message and it's their right to reject it. I don't force feed anybody who doesn't want to hear the gospel.

      But I think in today's hypersensitive PC culture something like this court ruling is going to far. It is impossible to make 100% of the people happy 100% of the time. We have too many situations where a small minority is trying to control a large majority. This small group of atheists is no different than a small group of rich, wealthy people banding together to take advantage of a large poor population using the courts in a particular situation.

      Even if you are not a believer, the cross has always been a symbol of respect for the departed and I would hope others can respect that tradition without all the anger and bitterness. Nobody is forcing them to a church, to adopt a particular way of life, or to profess faith if they have none.
        • 4 Years Ago
        A lot of the teachings of organized religion are good to have. But most of the good ones are "obvious" to most people -- ie. don't kill, don't rape, don't steal, etc. I have a problem with what I feel is indoctrination of children. I grew up in a Christian family, was very involved in the church, and grew up feeling "evil" because I doubted what was being told was truth. As I got older, I was able to pull away.

        I just dislike that it's "disrespectful" to debate religion, although you can debate any other belief or opinion. I dislike that a vast majority of Americans believe this country was founded on Christianity, when in fact it wasn't. Many of our founding fathers were atheists. Many of the world's geniuses were not religious, but again it's not advertised due to atheism having such a negative stigma. I don't agree with "under god" being added to the pledge of allegiance.

        Separation of church and state seems to be followed on a case-by-case basis. Gays should be able to marry, but the religious are trying to prevent it. What harm would gay marriage cause them? I dislike someone asserting their beliefs on others.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Jorshner
        Although, I'm more of agnostic with a strong distaste of organized cults...err, religions, you have my vote.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @MikeofLA - Funny, we have a lot in common. I have a strong distaste for religion and cults too. That's why my church has no affiliation with any denominations or teaching man made philosophy.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Actually the crosses are much bigger than shown. In California the state Supreme court said that the large cross in the Mojave Desert was allowed to stay. Someone so hated it that after the trial it was torn down by someone. Much ado about nothing.
      • 4 Years Ago
      God will get them for that!
        • 4 Years Ago
        I don't think these people care. This is the reason Supreme Course judges are so important. Now that Sonia the Wise and Chaz Bono are on the supreme court you can bet you will see similar rulings from them.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ Frank,

        The words "separation of church and State" never appear in the Constitution, you're correct on that. But the founders clearly intended for the Establishment clause to convey the message.

        "Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church and State (Letter to the Danbury Baptists, 1802)."

        This is akin to corporate personhood, even though it's not spelled out in the 14th amendment, the courts have seen the need for corporations to receive personhood so their rights aren't intruded upon by the state.
        And the second amendment, for instance, never says the individuals have the right to have guns for hunting or protecting their home, or person in public. It only says that well-armed militias are necessary to the security of a free State and their right to bear arms shall not be infringed. But that's been interpreted rather loosely.

        So why don't you take your tired, old right-wing liberalism talking points about courts and legislating from the bench and compare them against Court decisions and the actual text of the Constitution?
        • 4 Years Ago
        @LMBVette

        absolutely, its asshattery like this that makes the rest of us atheists look bad. those monuments stood to honor the officers who lost their lives in the line of duty to protect all of us. suing to take them down is just plain shameful.
        • 4 Years Ago
        airchompers , never mind my last statement, I re read it, I guess your telling frank to take his right wing views of a liberal and shove it!

        frank again, i don't care if I see a cross, to me it is about Christianity but that is just my point of view, but your right IT could be about other faiths.. I STILL believe it was taken down because to the Atheists, it is seen as a Christian symbol.

        Non the less everyone should try and get along and accept every one for who they are
        • 4 Years Ago
        One of the interesting aspects of this situation is that the crosses in this context are likely more symbols of memoriam rather than religion. Latter-day Saint (Mormons) the predominant religion in the state, don't use the cross as a religious symbol. Symbols change meaning over time and this is a case where a petty compliant combined with a rigid interpretation of the symbols cost taxpayers a lot of money in court and dishonored the memory of fallen troopers.
        • 4 Years Ago
        As an atheist, I'm always annoyed to see something like this giving us a bad name. The crosses should have been allowed, they are representing the fallen men and women more than any religion and its sad to see this happen.
        • 4 Years Ago
        airchompers I am not bashing you here because I don't acrew hat you believe because i am a liberal and IMO every one has rights, but if I read your post right, you called frank a right wing liberal! liberals are left wings aka Democrats and right wings are Conservatives aka Republicans, thought I help you so next time you can be more clear in what you mean!

        • 4 Years Ago
        This isn't against signs put up by individuals. It's regarding signs posted and maintained by the State. If your friend/family dies on the road and you erect a sign (like the many on So Cal highways and canyon roads) they aren't going to fine or arrest you.
        • 4 Years Ago
        better yet , If you live in utah and you think the cross belongs back up, put a cross on your cars bumper with the state logo.

        for what its wroth also, the back window would be a better place as far as trade in value, as it can be taken off better from the window then the paint on the bumper!
        • 4 Years Ago
        to Mike: I'll add that having the state insignia on the cross crosses the line for me. There's a reason we have a Constitution which separates church and state.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Except that the separation of church and state is not found anywhere in the Constitution, just the freedom (not restriction) of religion. Even the states were allowed to have an official religion, only the federal government could not.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "It does not bother me one bit when I see a cross on a road,as it shouldn't bother any one else ...

        Another reason why it should not bother you Farmer is because in this case it is not a symbol of religion. You see, the cross has multiple meanings in our society. Certainly one is Christianity, but the other one is a symbol of memorial of someone who has passed away. The officer may have been of another faith or no faith, but the cross is not indicative of his faith, it is indicative of his death and sacrifice in the line of duty. I am a Christian and when I see any cross on a roadside I do not think "oh that's a Christian who died" or that's a Christian symbol, I think that marks the spot where someone died in an accident or the line of duty, and that's all.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @LMBVette
        As an Atheist myself and also a supporter of separation of church and state I completely agree with you.
        Everyone must have the right to display their beliefs and the public should respect it.
        Displaying crosses on highways doesn't mean that the government is advocating a certain religion, it is simply a personal belief displayed to honor the fallen officers. Especially when these are all privately-owned.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Exactly, Frank. The whole reason for the freedom of religion clause was so that the Federal government couldn't set up a state church and then force everyone to support it through a tax, the way some European countries were doing at the time. It wasn't meant to put up a firewall between the church and state.

        The group American Atheists is the one that was set up by the late Madalyn Murray O'Hair (of the 1963 prayer in schools SCOTUS decision).

        That being said, I don't have any problem with the UHPA putting up the crosses, but I don't think it was a good idea to put the state seal on the crosses.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Article says:
        "their location didn't gel with the government's need to remain neutral on religion."
        Where does the constitution say this? It simply says that the Federal Government cannot ESTABLISH A RELIGION.
        Luis: Again, the constitution does not say anything about "separation of church and state." The Congress was simply forbidden from establishing a state religion. And yes, a Muslim memorial to a Muslim victim would be fine.
        Furthermore, there is no where to be found any kind of freedom from being able to see a religious memorial.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Nope, we don't live in America anymore... When the wackjobs can go to a court and get a memorial taken down.. it ain't worth a damn!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Uhm; duh -- they aren't ON the highways, they're usually several feet to the side of them :D
      • 4 Years Ago
      It atheists, the government and others are claiming the separation of church and state in so many areas and so many ways, including the removal of honorary crosses, why are the taxpaying citizens of this country funding the iman of the mosque near the site of 911 with $16,000 to travel to the Middle East to tout the treatment of Muslims in this country. Is that what they call separation of church and state? Where are the ateists and the ACLU when this is in direct contradiction to all these rulings on crosses.

      And by the way, how do the atheists know that these officers were not Christians?
      George
      • 4 Years Ago
      Screw the Atheists! This is America and the majority should rule on these issues, not the vocal minority..................
      • 4 Years Ago
      Let me guess, 9th Circuit court? Please, that place is run by people who make Obama look like Reagan.

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