Minnesota Veterans Agree to Cut Cross Off ‘Religious’ Memorial Following Complaint

BELLE PLAINE, Minn. — Veterans in a Minnesota city have removed a cross from a memorial erected in a public park after a prominent professing atheist group deemed the inclusion of the symbol as being an unlawful government endorsement of religion.

According to reports, the Belle Plaine Veterans Club had recently placed the display in Veterans Park next to an inscribed stone honoring local residents who had lost their lives in various wars, from the Indian War of 1862 to the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

The silhouette showed a soldier kneeling before a grave marker in the shape of a cross, such as are seen in some military cemeteries.

But the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) contended that the inclusion of the cross in the display promoted Christianity and failed to represent other religions or those who reject religion. It asked that the symbol be removed since its placement on city property could be construed as government endorsement.

“FFRF has no objection to veterans’ memorials. Our objection is to the message of endorsement of religion over non-religion,” the group wrote in a letter to City Attorney Bob Vose in October. “Additionally, this memorial sends a message that the government only cares about the deaths of Christian soldiers, not other non-Christian and non-religious soldiers.”

It contended that even though the purpose of the display was not meant to be religious, the cross grave marker made it so.

“No secular purpose, no matter how sincere, will detract from the overall message that the Latin cross stands for Christianity and the overall display promotes Christianity,” FFRF asserted. “The display of this patently religious symbol in a city park confers government endorsement of Christianity, a blatant violation of the Establishment Clause.”

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City council met over the matter earlier this month, and members of the Belle Plaine Veterans Club reluctantly agreed to cut the cross off the display at the recommendation of Vose.

“It was probably one of the hardest things that I had to do in a long time … to come up and cut this thing off of there,” local veteran Joe Burmeister told local television station KARE.

He said that a number of residents are upset that the symbol had to be removed, and reports outline that some plan on bringing crosses to the site to lay next to the display. Some will also erect crosses in their front yard as a statement of support.

“To me, it’s another attack on small town America—our freedoms,” Belle Plaine Mayor Christopher Meyer told the outlet.

News of the removal comes just after officials in Santa Clara, California uprooted a cross memorial in response to a lawsuit from FFRF. The cross, which had been erected 64 years ago as a memorial to an 18-century Spanish Catholic mission in the area, has now been donated to Santa Clara University.

In 1799, just 12 years after the signing of the U.S. Constitution, Congregationalist minister and geographer Jedidiah Morse said, “In proportion as the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation, either through unbelief or the corruption of its doctrines, in the same proportion will the people of the nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom and approximate the miseries of complete despotism.”

“Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all the blessings which flow from them, must fall with them,” he stated.

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  • Sharon_at_home

    All the war cemeteries have crosses on the graves. Are you going to go into the background of each soldier to find out if any weren’t Christian, so you can insist on the crosses be removed? Give me a break!

    • zeddicuskotor

      Because there is no difference between a cemetery and a public park.

      • clbrown

        Yes, there is. A cemetery is typically a private location, and each and every plot is purchased and paid for by those who bury their loved ones there.

        Some few cemeteries are “public” but the individual plots remain private.

        Even national cemeteries, like Arlington National, are “gifted plots” for those who are buried there. And those who are Jewish can be buried with the Star of David, while those who are Christian can be buried with a Cross, and those who are Muslim can be buried with whatever Islamic symbology they prefer, and Hindus… and the list goes on and on.

        If you want to be buried with a “Darwin fish” on your tombstone… that’s up to you. Nobody’s going to force a cross onto your grave.

        Please show the same level of respect for others, and stop arguing to force your own belief system on every one else.

        • Lexical Cannibal

          I’m pretty sure Zeddicus was being facetious, but points well made, nonetheless!

        • Joshua 1:9

          Very true. Except the Muslim part. As an Islamic law, Muslims demand their own separate cemeteries, so as to not be buried in the same ground with “defiled” human beings (ie, smokers, drinkers, eaters of pork, etc.).

          • Tangent002

            Muslims are buried alongside Christians and everyone else at Arlington National Cemetery.

          • Joshua 1:9

            Strange. I didn’t realize that. I know there is an Islamic rule that states they are not to be buried in the same ground as non-Muslims. I am surprised they haven’t dug up the bodies there and transported them.

          • clbrown

            The plan would, no doubt, to eventually “convert” the cemetary, and the dig up and dispose of the non-Muslim remains.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            There’s nothing unique about Muslims that makes them incapable of ignoring inconvenient parts of their religion, just like everybody else.

          • clbrown


          • clbrown

            Well, that’s the fun part about Shari’a… it can change whenever a cleric says it changes. Because, of course, “Allah says so.”

    • MarkSebree

      And most of those war cemeteries also have other symbols over the graves of the non-Christian veterans. Arlington Cemetery, for example, has over 60 symbols which can be included in the marker for the deceased, and less than 1/2 denote a Christian denomination.

      The markers honor the individual that is buried at that site, and can be different depending on the religion of the person buried there. The reason why crosses are so prevalent is because most of the population of the USA is Christian, which means most of those who have served in the Armed Forces are Christians by simple math.

      The difference in this case is that the sculpture was supposed to represent ALL veterans and service members AND it was on public property. However, since not all service members or veterans are or were Christian, including a religious symbol which only represents a single religion, Christianity, means that it does not in fact honor all veterans or service members.

      What do you want to say to those that you do not honor? “Sorry, but you are not worthy of being honored by our memorial.”? “Since you do not follow my religion, which happens to be the majority religion, you are not worthy of a memorial.”? Please, tell us.

      If this memorial was on private property, there would not be any problem. However, the city is sending a message that it favors a specific religion over all others, and that is illegal according to the First Amendment as expanded by the 14th Amendment and interpreted by the US Supreme Court in several decisions.

  • johndoe

    Any two straight lines placed at right angles form a cross. Must be frightening to live in a world full of evil, frightening images. Maybe people like this should stay home and draw the curtains. They sound very delicate and neurotic.

    • Ambulance Chaser

      Please cite the case law that legally defines a cross as “any two straight lines placed at right angles.”

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Villains always exist. It is problematic when people submit to villains. The veterans in a Minnesota city should never have submitted to atheists. US soldiers died to preserve Christians and not the communists.

    • Ambulance Chaser

      Then the FFRF would have sued the city, won, and gotten an order requiring the cross to be taken down. There might have been costs imposed against the city as well.

      Why would you want them to go through all of that bother to defend a losing case?

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        That’s the thing. The nation has become very bad. Great Americans were made into mere cowards by the atheists’ tyranny. Who could ever imagined such a day on the American soil? So shameful. Poor your founding fathers. Americans must never bash the German people of the Nazi era again. Americans are not better than the Germans. USA has no morality other than Christianity, and Americans must stop being subdued by the atheists. It’s a treason against God and also against all the great American fathers and war heroes.

        • Ambulance Chaser

          First of all, I vehemently disagree in the strongest terms possible with your characterization of America as Nazi Germany. There is no equivalence between a country restricting religious symbols to private property and a country marching six million people into extermination. The “shame” is all yours.

          Second, whether you like it or not, this is how the country runs. You can’t expect the city not to “submit to the atheists” because THAT’S THE LAW. You can’t make up your own legal system that only exists in your imagination then tell people to act according to it.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            You are wrong. Laws are meaningless if they do not submit to Judeo-Christian principles. Atheistic communists ordered people to deny God’s existence. Nazi Germany ordered people to surrender the Jews and invalids for death camps. Sodomic USA orders people to serve other people’s homosexuality and teach boys that they are girls. Those are all white people’s nations and tyrannical with evil. White people and their mental slaves need Christianity to be good again. No exception. White people are not smarter than the Holy Bible. You guys should admit that by now.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            I don’t know what it means for a law to be “meaningless” but if it exists, you have to obey it.

            We lawyers don’t sit around debating whether a law is “meaningless” or not, only whether it exists and applies to a given situation.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            You are wrong. American fathers created the USA so that all men can freely obey God as we should. Evil laws and tyranny must be fought against. That was the reason for American freedom’s existence. It is wrong for the West to force their sick homosexual inclination upon the world. No submission to evil falsehood – what the American fathers taught mankind. Laws need Judeo-Christian principles to be right. Americans need Ten Commandments again to become civilized. You guys were noble before. Don’t become childless merchants this century. The land will be taken by foreigners.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            I’m sorry, I forgot. I thought we could have a civil, sane discussion. Never mind.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            You guys have nothing good apart from Christianity. Wake up. Repent of your sins to get saved. Read John chapter 3.

          • Naturally Selected

            Why do you hate the Constitution so much and why on earth would you want a theocracy?

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            USA has been a Christian theocracy and Americans must remember that. Constitution protects religious freedom based on the Judeo-Christian principles. All other principles oppress humanity by forcing a falsehood.

          • Naturally Selected

            The USA is NOT a theocracy. It’s called the Establishment Clause. Look it up. Oh, here, I did it for you: The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits the government from making any law “respecting an establishment of religion.” This clause not only forbids the government from establishing an official religion, but also prohibits government actions that unduly favor one religion over another. It also prohibits the government from unduly preferring religion over non-religion, or non-religion over religion.

            You know what it DOESN’T say in the Constitution? “Jesus” There, I did that for you too.

            This protects all of us. Freedom of Religion means you can practice yours, and I can practice mine or not.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            Nothing was naturally selected. You were created by God. All Americans adhered Christianity and stole all the noble thoughts from the Holy Bible and the British Christians, and they wrote anthems and documents and monuments glorifying God and asking Him for help and guidance and protection. Americans do not know themselves because the Christian teachings have been too internally built-in. A typical young nation that does not know the world history or the outside world. America did anything good only because it was Christian. Pagans and atheists aren’t like Americans.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            Nature does not select you. Nature HATES mankind because natural men and women kill unborn children and shed innocent blood. (Genesis chapter 4, Psalm chapter 14, John chapter 14)

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            You guys got too well-fed and too powerful for the longest time and suffered boredom and became weird. Read Romans chapter 1. Only well-fed people demand homosexuality for warped amusement. Earthlings have no business of serving American pervs. The planet belongs to God and He destroys every Sodom. You guys need Christianity to be sane and moral again.

  • Fartzberg

    Removing Christian Crosses from graves of Christians is an atrocity, ethically, morally, logically

    A tyrannical. Act by a monority who have no respect for veterans who gave their lives to preserve our christian heritage of freedom and equality.