By David Silverman
I received an email today asking why American Atheists was “attacking” the Utah Highway Patrol Memorial. The email accused American Atheists of having an “issue with honoring fallen Utah peace officers.” It wanted to know why we could not just drive past it and see it as a MONUMENT (their use of caps). The writer then went on to say that it doesn’t matter if the peace officer is Christian, Jewish, Hindu, or atheist: they are just being honored.
What is he talking about? What memorial in Utah? Here are just a few news stories from when the Appeals Court ruled in favor of the Constitution:
-- Deseret News: Judges rule against Utah highway crosses for fallen troopers.
-- Christian Science Monitor: Roadside crosses for fallen Utah police unconstitutional, court rules.
-- Huffington Post: Utah Memorial Crosses Struck Down by Court of Appeals In Denver.
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American Atheists does not have an issue with honoring fallen Utah State Police, Highway Patrol, or Peace Officers. One thing is for sure, roadside crosses are not the way to honor them. How can you honor a Jewish, Hindu, pagan, or atheist trooper with a Christian cross? How does that even remotely begin to honor them? Only a religion in the majority would think that no one of a different religion would be offended by being represented by the majority religion’s symbols. I wonder if the Christian defenders of the Utah crosses would mind an Ohm being placed at their memorial in New Delhi or the Koran being used to reference their sacrifice at their memorial in Tehran.
Fallen Troopers should not be “honored” with bogus religious symbols. They should be honored with an actual memorial that captures their bravery, sacrifice, and courage under fire: a monument that testifies to their tenacity and their willingness to lay down their lives in the protection of the citizens of Utah. A cross does not portray this at all and dishonors the fallen troopers by imposing the religion of the cross upon them and using their sacrifice to the citizens of Utah as a means to proselytize.
The so-called memorial (a string of crosses for each fallen officer) is offensive, but it is also unconstitutional. Not only does it dishonor their service and their sacrifice, it violates the state and federal constitutions.
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This recent trend to promote the Christian cross as having “no religious meaning” is astoundingly ridiculous. To hear a judge on the United States Supreme Court say such in order to justify his position that Christianity is okay to promote, should not only irk those of us fighting on the side of the constitution, but equally irk our Christian friends. How can they not be upset at the secularization of their most prized and sacred symbol?
The idea that a string of Christian crosses is “just a memorial” is laughably ludicrous. Is anyone really so naïve to think that whoever designed and built the memorial really thought, “I will just use two random sticks. Hmm, that looks like a cross. Well, that’s okay, because I had two secular sticks in mind when I built it.” Or is someone so naïve enough to think that it was not designed with proselytizing in mind?
The Utah crosses are an affront to the men and women who serve the citizens of Utah and who have died in the line of fire. The memorial is an affront to the Utah Constitution and the Constitution of the United States.
I would encourage the citizens of Utah to ask that a real memorial be built for their fallen Troopers. There are a lot of great examples out there of secular memorials that capture the essence of a Trooper and the sacrifices they make on a daily basis defending their citizens.
-- Sheriff’s Association Memorial
-- New Jersey Correctional Officer Memorial
-- Fresno County Peace Officers Memorial
-- Huntsville Police Memorial (This one was delivered a couple of weeks ago where I live in Huntsville, AL)