Ten Commandments

Why is the Bladensburg Peace Cross case important? The New York Times spells it out

Why is the Bladensburg Peace Cross case important? The New York Times spells it out

When I lived in Maryland and commuted a few miles to my Washington Times job, I often drove by a huge World War I memorial known as the “Peace Cross.” Every so often I thought: I wonder if someone is going to file a lawsuit against the monument, claiming to be offended by it.

It’s true that the Supreme Court has said there’s no legal basis in removing a monument simply because one person is offended by it -- but these are strange times. Look at what the new iconoclasm is doing to some Civil War monuments and could do to others.

In fact, one legal group posted a blog item suggesting that if the Ten Commandments offend you, don’t visit Washington, DC. And yes, there is now an effort to remove the peace cross.

Here is the top of the New York Times report on this controversy. The key: Try to find information stating why someone -- right now -- is offended by this old monument.

BLADENSBURG, Md. -- Five miles from the United States Supreme Court, a 40-foot-tall World War I memorial in the shape of a cross has stood for nearly a century. Now, it is at the center of a battle over the separation of church and state that may end up on the court’s docket.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit declared this month that the Peace Cross, which sits on state-owned land in Maryland and has been maintained with public funds, was unconstitutional, a ruling that supporters of the monument warned could result in a “cleansing” of memorials on public grounds across the country…
The Peace Cross, which commemorates 49 fallen soldiers from Prince George’s County, looms over the knotted intersection of Maryland Route 450 and United States Alternate Route 1 in this old port town of 10,000 people. ... The monument was erected in 1925 with funding from local families and the American Legion, but the state obtained title to the cross and land in 1961, and has spent at least $117,000 to maintain them.
In a 2-to-1 ruling, the three-judge panel declared that the Peace Cross violated the First Amendment by having “a primary effect of endorsing religion and excessively entangles the government and religion.”

Reading that, I wondered if these circuit judges had ever driven past that cross every day to work. It’s in a roundabout more noted for honking horns than holiness.

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Why didn’t the Bible abolish slavery? So, which form of slavery are we talking about?

Why didn’t the Bible abolish slavery? So, which form of slavery are we talking about?

THE QUESTION:

If the Bible is a revered guide to morality, why didn’t it abolish slavery? The Guy poses this issue that was raised in many comments posted after our Oct. 17, 2016, Q&A about people who abhor Jewish and Christian Scripture.

THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:

Toleration of slavery, in which some people own and control others as property, is a favorite Internet attack skeptics level against the Bible. Greg Carey of Lancaster Theological Seminary says slavery is “the single most contested issue in the history of biblical interpretation in the United States.” Indeed, the U.S. Civil War demonstrated how ingrained this economic practice was and how difficult to eliminate — think 600,000-plus war dead.

Evangelical historian Mark Noll says Christians’ pre-war debate on this undercut scriptural authority because the two opposite sides employed the Bible for support. Supporters of the South’s plantation economy argued that the Bible never required abolition of slavery, while abolitionists believed biblical principles mandate freedom and respect for each person created by God. Bible believers in that second group were largely responsible for achieving abolition of this unmitigated evil on a global scale.

Slavery existed as far back as human history can be traced, and the dimensions became staggering. The Encyclopaedia Britannica says slaves were once half the population in sectors of Asia, an estimated 18 million east Africans were subjected to the Muslim slave trade from the time of the Quran through 1900, while the west African trade involved 7 to 10 million enslaved people until British and American abolition.

Defenders of the Bible note that thousands of years ago holy writ did not require slavery but accommodated it as an unavoidable reality, and mitigated it with relatively enlightened and humane provisions.

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