Friday, December 04, 2015
Atheists and Muslims: "Cross is Offensive"
This week, Maryland Federal Judge Deborah Chasanow did the right thing.
She threw out a lawsuit that was intended to tear down a 40 foot memorial that has stood for almost 100 years.
The memorial is a cross. This incident highlights an even greater conflict.
The American Humanist Association was demanding the monument in the shape of a cross be torn down, because, they said in the law suit, it's "offensive."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was attempting to join the atheists by filing an amicus brief in support of tearing down the cross, because they too found it to be "offensive."
Historically, there has always been those who work tirelessly to remove and discredit the cross.
The 40 foot tall monument has stood for almost 100 years at the intersection of Maryland Route 450 and US Route 1 in Bladensburg.
Dedicated in 1925, although private fundraising for the monument had begun in 1918. The monument is a memorial to veterans and those who died in World War II, Pearl Harbor, Korea and Vietnam, 9/11, the War of 1812 and the Battle of Bladensburg---a battle fought during the War of 1812.
The Bladensburg Cross has a plaque that says, "Memorial Cross is dedicated to the heroes of Prince George's County, Maryland who lost their lives in the Great War for the liberty of the world."
It also has a quotation from President Woodrow Wilson. Four words are inscribed on each face of the cross: "valor, endurance, courage, devotion."
Is that offensive?
The atheists and Muslims say they are concerned that since 1960, the monument, previously owned and maintained by the American Legion, is owned and maintained by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
Does this monument actually establish a religion?
The atheists and Muslims say it sort of does.
Stretching to their mental and legal limits, they point to a Washington Post story from 1931 which indicates there may have been at least 3 Sunday religious services held at the monument.
That's 84 years ago. And so what?
The atheists and the Muslims also include the "race card."
They try to dirty the water a bit by claiming that the Klu Klux Klan may have had some connection to the monument in the past.
The judge, to her credit, called it nonsense. She said their claim fails to show a violation of the Establishment Clause, the cross is, she says, "undeniably a religious symbol," but the Commission is driven by "secular purpose" in their maintaining and displaying a "historically significant war memorial, that has honored fallen soldiers for almost a century."
She says crosses are used all over the world to mark the graves of American servicemen who died overseas.
I suspect they will appeal. In fact, this is not the Muslims, nor the atheists first attempt to get rid of the cross.
This summer, Muslims were demanding crosses be removed from a Catholic school because, you guessed it---they are "offensive."
In fact, they said the crosses at Catholic University in Washington DC were so offensive that they were unable to pray to Allah.
This may say as much about Allah, as the cross.
But all this highlights a greater truth.
The cross not only offends atheists and Muslims---it also offends the intellectual elites.
Paul writing to the Corinthians (I Corth. 1: 18, 21-25, 27) said, "The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." Paul then quotes Isaiah, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent."
Paul says the Jews seek a sign, while the Greeks seek wisdom, but the cross is seen to them as foolishness and a stumbling block.
And this is where the gospel---the cross, clashes with contemporary secular progressive thinking.
In the mind of the secular progressive intellectual elite, right and wrong are what you believe them to be---there are no universal rights and wrongs.
Christianity teaches that we all have sinned. We are lost, and the cross is the means back to restoration, forgiveness and eternal life.
If sin is relative, or doesn't exist in the enlightened mind, then why would anyone need a "cross" or a savior?
The cross declares how dire our condition is apart from Jesus. It announces how deep the sin goes, how profound the rebellion is, how impossible is our plight apart from Help from the outside.
No wonder the cross is a problem to those who do not know the one true living God.
Isaiah the prophet recognized God's plan, which included the cross, and further recognized it would be "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense" ( 8:14).
The cross will continue to offend atheists, Muslims and others. In our attempt to "relate" to a lost world, I pray the Christian church will never attempt to hide the cross because it is offensive.
Paul taught we must "endure all things rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ" (I Corth. 9:12; II Corth. 6:3), "strain to become all things to all people, that by all means [we] might save some" (I Corth. 9:22) and do all in our power to "give no offense to Jews or Greeks or to the church of God" (I Corth. 10:32).
But this one offense---the offense of the cross---we cannot, must not, remove.
The cross declares how dire our condition really is.