Monday, November 14, 2005

The Assault Continues...

I learned today of a lawsuit in New Mexico in which the plantiffs are seeking the removal of the crosses from the official insignia of the City of Las Cruces.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but since the direct translation of "Las Cruces" is "The Crosses," doesn't it follow that it's not nearly so much of a religious symbol as a representation of the history of that name? Wikipedia has an entry that gives an overview of the predominant story of how the name came to be (link here). In brief, an Indian attack led to the burial of some early settlers (who happened to include some clergy) in the fledgling community. The graves were marked with crosses, the customary gravemarkings of the day, and the community came to be known as "El Pueblo del Jardin de Las Cruces" (translated literally, The City of the Garden of the Crosses), and later shortened to "Las Cruces."

Now, in the name of eradicating every reference to anything that may be of significance to the Christian religion, these two people claim that the crosses in the city's seal are somehow violating their civil rights, and that their presence in the seal constitutes a breach of the Constitutional barrier between church and state..

The plantiffs are, predictably, athiests.

A quote from this article:

"The crosses serve no governmental purpose other than to disenfranchise and discredit non-Christian citizens," said the lawsuit filed by Paul F. Weinbaum, who lives in the Las Cruces area, and Martin J. Boyd of Las Cruces.
I will point out, first, that "disenfranchise" is not a word (it's like saying "uninhale"--the correct word is "disfranchise"). I would also call attention to the fact that one of the plaintiffs doesn't even live in Las Cruces.

The article goes on to say that the city, by its use of the seal, is in violation of the Civil Rights act of 1964, by forcing applicants for employment by the city to sign papers bearing the infernal symbol.

Spare me.

I suppose this should come as no surprise, considering the zeal of the current crop of anti-Christian crusaders, but in this situation, the crosses in question are not particularly indicative of any religious endorsement. If the shape alone is grounds for a lawsuit, I'm anxious to see how the athiests would have us redo highway intersections, which symbol should replace the current mathematical figure for addition, and how we should address the nagging problem of perpendicular lines in archetecture.

There's also that pesky letter "X" that's been used as a symbol by the Christian church.

For a moment, ignore the historical basis for the crosses. It's ironic to some degree that the accusation focuses upon the alleged imposition of the Christian religion upon nonbelievers, when the effect of their efforts is an effectual ban upon religious symbols in public. The fact that their sensibilities are somehow offended by the presence of those symbols is a direct product of their own religious beliefs (defining "religious" broadly, but an active nonbelief does indeed constitute a religion of sorts). The government's complicity in furthering their cause, then, is essentially an endorsement of their own "nonreligion."

But particular to this case is the fact that the crosses in question are historically tied to the city. There is one theory that indicates a potentially different origin of the name (that it's simply a Spanish equivalent of "crossroads") but it's a weak theory, because there are scores of towns that could have inherited the name according to that notion. The city leaders, however, have the burdensome task of arguing the historical aspect of the name's origin in the absence of any hard-and-fast documentation of that early history. This is not unique, as the origins of many cities' names aren't a matter of historic documentation. That may be the ultimate finding, however, by the courts--that absent any verifiable record establishing the origin of the name, the city must back down from their claim of historical significance.

Or in other words, presumed guilty unless proven innocent. Not exactly the axiom in which this nation's legal system is rooted.

I realize the right to challenge such displays exists at the most basic level of constitutional law. I also realize, however, that the judicial system has lost touch with the intent of the founders on this issue. I don't think that anyone can reasonably contend that the founders believed that the government should create a society void of any public religious reference. The government should not be involved in the business of religion, but it shouldn't go beyond basic common sensical analysis whether action "a" constitutes government endorsement of religion. Display alone simply does not equal endorsement.

Here in the United States of the Offended, however, any nutjob can get an audience, and if he's a nutjob with the "right" agenda, he can get a whole lot of support from the current judiciary.

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