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If a ‘Peace Cross’ endorses religion, then what about ‘Los Angeles’?

If a ‘Peace Cross’ endorses religion, then what about ‘Los Angeles’?
Visitors walk around the 40-foot Maryland Peace Cross, dedicated to World War I soldiers, in Bladensburg, Md. (Kevin Wolf / Associated Press)

To the editor: It’s ironic that the editorial board of “The Angels” Times is disturbed by a 94-year-old cross in Maryland that was intended to honor fallen American soldiers in World War I.

Los Angeles, the “City of Angels,” was named by Christians in 1771, and your newspaper embraced that name when it began publishing in 1881.

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But now we are a diverse community. Los Angeles and your continued use of our city’s name may endorse Christianity. That would be a hyper-literal interpretation, similar to your opinion that the historic Bladensburg Peace Cross promotes a religion.

Would a reasonable person really advocate tearing down the Maryland memorial or forcing our city and your newspaper to change their names?

William Goldman, Palos Verdes Estates

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To the editor: “Christianity” is the first thought that enters my mind when I see the photograph of the Maryland cross. Nothing else comes close.

When this cross was erected, it posed a real threat to the values of the Establishment Clause, but who would have dared say so at the time? Certainly not Christians, who would have had every reason to regard theirs as the de facto state religion.

They still do, thanks to the current makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ronald Webster, Long Beach

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To the editor: The meaning of religious symbols is again being debated.

As a Catholic woman, I object to reducing the cross to a historical cultural artifact. The cross is the primary Christian symbol and therefore cannot be used to memorialize the dead who are not Christian.

If religious symbols are only “cultural artifacts,” they lose their meaning and power. Christians who value their religious traditions should speak out against this devaluation of our core religious symbol.

Doris Isolini Nelson, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Your editorial says about the cross in Maryland, “But rightly read, the 1st Amendment forbids the government from embracing that symbol.” I disagree, but that’s beside the point.

The real point is that a local community wanted a lasting memorial to their fallen comrades. About 40 years later, the local government took it over, and more than 50 years after that, a group named the American Humanist Assn. tried to get it removed.

This group is using the power of the government not just to eliminate religion, but to erase our past as well.

Kerwin McLaughlin, Huntington Beach

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