The Justices wanted to remain neutral and tearing down the monument would be hostile towards religion. They emphasized that respecting monuments and symbols of religion is the best way to remain neutral towards religion. Learn more at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.
This is the third in a series of episodes exploring the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in First Liberty’s case, The American Legion v. AHA. In this episode, we turn to the issue of hostility toward religion.
It’s clear that the Justices wished to respect the presence of the memorial and what it has come to mean for the people of Bladensburg, Maryland. Though opponents of the memorial clamored for neutrality, removing the Peace Cross would not be a neutral act by the government.
As the majority explained, “requiring their removal would not be viewed by many as a neutral act” and “would be seen by many as profoundly disrespectful.” Worse, the court’s majority observed, “a campaign to obliterate items with religious associations may evidence hostility to religion even if those religious associations are no longer in the forefront.”
In our next episode, we will look at that last part and the evolution of this particular religious symbol into what it means today, but don’t miss this critical point: the Justices of the Supreme Court are communicating to the nation that genuine neutrality toward religion means respecting religiously expressive monuments, symbols, and practices, not destroying, altering, or hiding them.
As Justice Alito explained in his majority opinion, “A government that roams the land, tearing down monuments with religious symbolism and scrubbing away any reference to the divine will strike many as aggressively hostile to religion.”
Stay tuned for more.
To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.