Read an Excerpt
bad SAMARITANSTHE ACLU'S RELENTLESS CAMPAIGN TO ERASE FAITH from THE PUBLIC SQUARE
By JEROME R. CORSI
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2013 Jerome R. Corsi
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe War on God
We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation. —President Barack H. Obama
At a press conference in Turkey on April 6, 2009, President Obama declared that we Americans do not consider ourselves to be a Christian nation. President Obama chose to make this pronouncement in an Islamic state. The more complete quotation makes it clear the president wanted to distance characterizing the United States by any religious values: "Although as I mentioned, we have a very large Christian population, we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation; we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."
Studying this quotation, we can see how successful the American Civil Liberties Union has been in transforming the concept of the United States from our origins, distancing our present from the initial pilgrims who landed in the New World to escape religious persecution in the Old World. Subtly, President Obama's statement erases religion altogether from the concept of the United States as a nation. Substituted instead are secular concepts of not specified "ideals" and "values." What precisely are these ideals and values if the definition must derive from other than an understanding of God? If there is no God who instills in human beings our "unalienable rights" of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, are we now fully dependent on the state to define and preserve our freedoms? Consider how far we have come from the Declaration of Independence that President Obama can make today a definitional statement of the United States without reference to our Creator. This transformation of America from a Judeo-Christian nation to a secular nation that excludes God from public mention has not happened by accident.
As noted in the Preface, under the guise of protecting First Amendment freedom of religion rights, the ACLU has conducted a decades-long War on God, with the goal of erasing every trace of the Judeo-Christian religion from the public spaces of the nation. The ACLU's War on God is central to the true purpose of the Communists who founded the organization and the radical Left that promotes the organization today.
Today, the ACLU aims to remove all symbols of Judeo-Christian worship not only from the public spaces of the nation but also from the hearts and minds of the American people. For those who think this judgment is too harsh, consider that our Founding Fathers intended to welcome all religions on an equal basis, a principle they clearly articulated in the First Amendment.
Never did our Founding Fathers contemplate the creation of an organization like the ACLU—a well-funded group of leftist legal advocates who would learn how to use the principles of religious freedom defined in the First Amendment to destroy religious freedom in the United States.
Ironically, the hypocrisy of the ACLU has never been greater than today. How can the ACLU defend Islam in the same public arena in which it would have sued if the religious practices had been Judeo-Christian in nature?
These three short vignettes should leave no doubt that Judeo-Christian religious beliefs are not safe in the United States as long as the ACLU continues to win in the war it has decided since its founding to wage against God.
* * *
In 1934, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) put up a Latin cross on Sunrise Rock in the Mojave Desert as a memorial to soldiers who died in World War I.
Sunrise Rock became public land in 1994 when Congress passed the California Desert Protection Act, creating the Mojave National Preserve. This legislation transformed the cross from being a memorial to the veterans who died in World War I to preserve our basic freedoms into what the ACLU would quickly perceive as an objectionable religious symbol that needed to be removed from government-owned land.
To get a feel for the impact of a solitary cross, regardless how prominently displayed, on a national park the size of the Mojave National Preserve, consider that the park covers some 1.6 million acres of Southern California land—an area that comprises 25,000 square miles, making the Mojave National Preserve the third-largest unit of the National Park System in the contiguous United States. Its size exceeds the combined area of the nation's five smallest states. A solitary cross in a park that size is barely the magnitude of a postage stamp placed on a football field.
Yet despite the relative insignificance in size of the few feet comprising the cross monument, for more than sixty years the cross remained a poignant expression giving meaning to the ultimate sacrifice of those honored US servicemen and servicewomen who fought, bled, and died in Europe's World War I trench-lined battlefields.
Going back to the 1930s, the original caretaker of the cross was a reclusive prospector named John Riley Bembrey, reputedly a medic in World War I and part of the original group of veterans who erected the cross. Over time, caretaking for the memorial passed to Wanda and Henry Sandoz, a couple who owned private land elsewhere on the preserve. They had been on a picnic in the desert when they met Bembrey in an encounter that changed their lives.
When the Washington Post caught up with Wanda and Henry in 2009, they were approaching the fiftieth anniversary of their marriage; Wanda was sixty-five years old, and Henry was seventy. "Everybody in the area knew why that cross was there," Henry told the newspaper reporter. "They want to just tear it down, tear it down, tear it down, but I put it up to stay." Wanda was equally devoted to the monument. "We realize this country wouldn't be what it was without the veterans," she told the Washington Post. "To me, I know it sounds corny, but that cross out there in the middle of nowhere is as important to me as the Vietnam memorial. All your memorials in Washington, D.C., they're beautiful, they're impressive, they're wonderful, but they say the same exact thing as that cross is saying."
Even after Henry and Wanda in their senior years had moved some 150 miles away from the Mojave Desert to be closer to their grandchildren, the couple remained as committed as ever to their mission. The cross had been replaced and repaired many times since first being put in place in 1934; in 1998 Sandoz finally built a cross of four-inch metal pipes painted white that stood eight feet tall.
For decades, the various crosses stood tall in the Southern California sky, atop the thirty-foot-high rock, equally visible from the nearest highway ten miles away and from Cima Road, a narrow strip of blacktop within one hundred feet of Sunrise Rock. Since it was first put in place, the Mojave cross served as a gathering place for Easter services, and the immediate area was used as a campsite for those who gathered to worship there. At one point, the cross was marked by wooden signs that stated, "The Cross, Erected in Memory of the Dead of All Wars," and "Erected 1934 by Members of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Death Valley Post 2884."
In 1999, Frank Buono, a retired Park Service employee who had worked at nearby Joshua Tree National Park and professed to be Catholic, complained to the ACLU that he was offended by the presence of the cross as a religious symbol on public land. He felt the cross represented a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Buono argued that even though he lived in Oregon, he was a frequent visitor to the Mojave National Preserve. He asked the ACLU of Southern California to seek on his behalf an injunction against the government that would compel the removal of the cross.
Henry and Wanda Sandoz objected strenuously. Politely but firmly, Sandoz told the Washington Post that he was not inclined to be helpful when the superintendent of the preserve told him and his wife that there had been a complaint about the cross and asked him to take it down.
"I told her not 'no,' but 'hell, no,'" he told the reporter.
In March 2001, the ACLU of Southern California, representing Buono, filed a lawsuit in federal court to compel National Park Service officials to remove the cross. "The federal government should not offer public land—owned collectively by people of every faith and no faith—as a site for the advertisement and promotion of Jesus Christ, Buddha, Pope John Paul II, or any other particular religious figure," said Peter Eliasberg, a staff attorney of the ACLU of Southern California and a First Amendment specialist, at the time the lawsuit was filed.
The ACLU press release announcing the lawsuit indicated the ACLU felt it had won the previous year in negotiations about the issue after receiving a letter from the National Park Service saying the cross would be removed. But everything changed on December 15, 2000, when the US Congress passed an appropriations bill including a rider introduced by California's Republican representative Jerry Lewis that prohibited the secretary of the interior from using any federal funds to remove the Mojave cross.
"If any person was allowed to place a permanent, free-standing expression of his or her political viewpoint at this site, we would have no objection," Eliasberg said, defending the lawsuit, "but that is not the case here. No other group is allowed to erect a religious symbol. This creates a situation in which the federal government favors Christian expression over any other."
The ACLU press release said the Mojave cross case presented the ACLU with a "crucial first test" of the US Department of Justice under then recently appointed attorney general John Ashcroft, a strong and openly professed Christian. The ACLU noted that he "promised during his confirmation hearings that he would uphold the Constitution."
At the same time he filed the lawsuit, Eliasberg sent a letter to the Department of Justice in which he urged government officials "to act responsibly, abide by the law, and reach a quick settlement rather than attempt to defend a clearly unconstitutional practice," according to the press release. "This case will put to the test Attorney General Ashcroft's commitment to upholding the principles of our Constitution," Eliasberg wrote. "This will be a clear indicator of what we can expect from this Department of Justice in upholding the First Amendment guarantees that keep us free."
The ACLU expressed no doubt that the Constitution required the Bush administration to defy not only its faith-based principles and God, but also the World War I veterans to whom the cross was dedicated, in using the power of the federal government to remove this lonely white cross from the rugged granite outcrop on which it stood in one of California's most beautiful and most desolate deserts.
"The courts have consistently held," Eliasberg argued, "that a permanent religious fixture on federal land is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. An Act of Congress doesn't change that. The cross must come down, and no amount of political maneuvering or grandstanding will prevent that."
Ever conscious of the public relations impact of its arguments, the ACLU of Southern California had asked Morris Radin, an eighty-two-year-old Jewish veteran of World War II, to attend the press conference in a move obviously calculated to cushion what otherwise might be interpreted as an offense against veterans.
"My father, Abe, was just eighteen when he came to America and became a citizen," Radin told the press. "As an Orthodox Jew, he knew firsthand what happens when people are not free to practice their beliefs. He and my mother Sophie both left Russia to escape the pogroms. They never told me whether they had witnessed any of the atrocities born of that nation's inability to guarantee their freedom of religion. They drew a curtain on that period of their lives and faced a new life in a different place."
What was the ACLU's point? That the Holocaust could be repeated in the United States if the Bush administration in its first months in office was not compelled to use the full force and authority of the federal government to remove the Mojave cross?
On July 24, 2002, the US District Court for the Central District of California found that Buono, as a frequent visitor to the Mojave National Preserve, had standing to sue and, after concluding the presence of the cross on federal land conveyed an impression of governmental endorsement of religion, granted Buono injunctive relief to remove the cross. "This is a huge victory not only for the ACLU but also for the First Amendment," Eliasberg celebrated on hearing the district court's ruling.
In the wake of the district court ruling in 2002, a plywood box was constructed and mounted on the cross to cover the view of the horizontal bar. Instead of a cross on top of Sunrise Rock, the memorial was transformed into a rectangular box held aloft by a round, white-painted metal pole.
In 2003, once again Representative Lewis came to the rescue by inserting language into the massive fiscal year 2004 defense appropriations bill that proposed to swap out the cross and one acre of the land on which it stood in exchange for a one-acre parcel of land owned by the Sandoz family within the confines of the Mojave National Preserve. This was aimed at transferring the Mojave cross from federal ownership to sympathetic private ownership under the auspices of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
On April 5, 2005, the US District Court for the Central District of California held that the land exchange arranged by Congress in 2003 was a "sham" to avoid the Constitution, an invalid attempt to keep the cross on display, not a legitimate attempt to comply with the court's earlier issued injunction. This decision was upheld by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, one of the most liberal courts in America, in the decision of a three-judge panel that invalidated the land transfer on September 6, 2007, arguing that "carving out a tiny parcel of property in the midst of this vast Preserve—like a donut hole with the cross atop it—will do nothing to minimize the impermissible governmental endorsement."
The Bush administration appealed, calling the ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals a "seriously misguided decision" that would require the government "to tear down a cross that has stood without incident for 70 years as a memorial to fallen service members." When it reached the Supreme Court, the case tested not only the resolve of the Bush administration but also the conservative credentials of Bush-appointed chief justice John G. Roberts in a court that also included Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., whom Bush appointed to replace Sandra Day O'Connor as she retired.
On April 28, 2010, in writing the majority opinion for the Supreme Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy remanded the case, Salazar v. Buono, 559 U.S. _____ (2010), back to the lower courts for further consideration consistent with the Supreme Court's holdings. Justice Kennedy concluded that
a Latin cross is not merely a reaffirmation of Christian beliefs. It is a symbol often used to honor and respect those whose heroic acts, noble contributions, and patient striving help secure an honored place in the history of this Nation and its people. Here, one Latin cross in the desert evokes far more than religion. It evokes thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles, battles whose tragedies are compounded if the fallen are forgotten.
But the liberal members of the Supreme Court were not convinced. Dissenting, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote, "The cross is not a universal symbol of sacrifice. It is the symbol of one particular sacrifice, and that sacrifice carries deeply significant meaning for those who adhere to the Christian faith."
In the delicate balance that is the Supreme Court, for the moment the conservative appointments of the Bush administration held the day when they declared the Constitution does not necessarily require the removal of religious symbols from public land.
Technically, the Supreme Court dodged the issue. The majority of justices decided it was better to accept the land transfer, not as the sham seen by the Ninth Circuit Court, but as a legitimate removal of the cross from federal land to private property now owned by the VFW. Still, narrowly viewed, the complex Supreme Court decision in Salazar v. Buono only remanded to the district court for reconsideration the land-transfer scheme the appeals court had previously rejected; the carefully crafted consensus avoided forcing the Supreme Court to take an ultimate stand on the constitutionality of the cross itself.
That a majority of the court—Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito, along with Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas—ruled the cross should remain in place appeared to many to represent a shift in the court toward allowing religious symbols to remain on government property. Truthfully, the decision was splintered, with concurring, dissenting, concurring-in-part, and dissenting-in-part decisions being filed by the various justices. The court took the easy way out, deciding to remand the case back to the lower courts to see if the land-transfer solution could be worked out. In other words, if the cross technically could be defined as not resting on federal land, the constitutional challenge would simply go away.
"The land-transfer statute embodies Congress's legislative judgment that this dispute is best resolved through a framework and policy of accommodation for a symbol that, while challenged under the Establishment Clause, has complex meaning beyond the expression of religious views," Justice Kennedy wrote. "That judgment should not have been dismissed as an evasion, for the statute brought about a change of law and a congressional statement of policy applicable to the case."
In the final analysis, the Supreme Court ruling settled nothing.
During the night of May 9–10, 2010, unknown vandals tore off the plywood cover, physically removed the cross from its base on Sunrise Rock, and stole it. Wanda Sandoz told the Associated Press that vandals had damaged the cross in the past, but that such incidents had become rarer since her husband bolted the cross to the desert rock more than a decade earlier.
"I was really upset and I was crying," Wanda said, after learning the cross was gone, "but then I said, 'Well, we'll show them. We'll put up a bigger one and a better one.'"
But Henry Sandoz objected, "No we won't. We will put one up exactly like the veterans put up."
Excerpted from bad SAMARITANS by JEROME R. CORSI Copyright © 2013 by Jerome R. Corsi. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.