Two letters published Tuesday in favor of preserving the Mt. Soledad cross — a war memorial perched on publicly owned land overlooking San Diego — defended the monument as a fitting tribute to American soldiers killed in battle. Reader Michael Murphy of San Pedro said he was "at a loss to understand the emotions of those who somehow feel threatened by a simple acknowledgment of our fallen veterans of all faiths and beliefs."
That statement didn't sit well with readers objecting to the cross, which was ordered removed last week by a federal judge. Several responded by explaining why they oppose keeping a religious symbol on public land.
-- Paul Thornton, letters editor
Rob Macfarlane of Newport Beach clarifies what is offensive about religious displays:
"I'm disappointed in the Christian community for making no effort to understand the opposition to the Latin cross that sits on top of Mt. Soledad. They only offer criticism to those who find the cross offensive and unwelcome on public property.
"Nonreligious Americans are not opposed to Christianity or religious symbols; they just don't appreciate any religious demonstrations on public property — be they Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or any other faith.
"It's offensive to hear the Christian community imply that non-Christians are somehow not as patriotic or worthy of military honors because they don't support the Christian faith."
Solano Beach resident Aaron Mills calls on the courts to settle this for good:
"The letters printed on this subject reflect the breadth of views held by our citizenry of widely varying beliefs. But none addresses the enduring root of religious symbol controversies.
"Keeping crosses prominently positioned has become one means by which the Christian majority validates — some would say struts — its bullying of religious and nonreligious minorities. The same principle motivates that majority to insist on prayers to its God during meetings convened by public entities; nonbelievers are thereby marginalized.
"The Supreme Court should put an end to institutionalized oppression of this country's growing non-Christian minority. A sweeping decision on the order of Brown vs. Board of Education — which in 1954 reversed the 'separate but equal' doctrine by which blacks were systematically oppressed — is past due.
"Such a decision would ratify separation of church and state and help liberate nonbelievers from majority oppression. It would also serve to free the court from endless haggling over prickly religious freedom disputes."
Mary Ann Steinberger of Tujunga explains why a cross doesn't honor her:
"The saying, 'I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you,' comes immediately to mind after reading the letters wondering why someone would want the cross removed. But here's one more attempt:
"The cross represents a powerful group that has been, for centuries, trying to obliterate me and mine from this planet. How can anyone seriously say that this honors us in any way?"