Another Cross in the Cross-hairs of Christophobic Activists

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Prof. William Wagner

WFFC Distinguished Chair for Faith & Freedom at SAU

The latest Michigan cross in the cross-hairs of Christophobic activists is an historic cross at Sackrider Hill.  Activists also recently attacked a crosses in Grand Haven, Pere Marquette Township, and the Waterloo Recreation area. Salt & Light Global, and our Great Lakes Justice Center stand by those who stand for the cross.  

The First Amendment

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof .…”  U.S. const. amend. I.

In a 1970’s case, Lemon v Kurtzman, the Supreme Court, under the guise of interpreting the First Amendment, changed the meaning of the word establishment.  Before Lemon, you needed no legal training to see the plain meaning of the Clause. It prohibits government from establishing a religious government (e.g., Iran). The Court, without constitutional authority to do so, changed the meaning. According to the Court’s opinion, every government action must have a secular purpose, and not even symbolically endorse religion. The Court’s test in Lemon intentionally muzzled religious conscience and viewpoints.

Historical Crosses do not Violate the First Amendment

Because the crosses do not establish a U.S. Christian theocracy, they do not violate the Establishment Clause.  First, they do not relate to the act of establishing or founding of a religion.  Second, none of the crosses subject American citizens to governance under a theocracy. Third, none of the crosses coerce American citizens, by force of law and penalty, to practice one official religion to the exclusion of all others. The historic crosses do not, therefore, violate the plain meaning of the First Amendment. For a more in-depth legal analysis, click here.

Stand up to Bullies: Reject the Archaic Secular “Lemon Test”

Due to the Lemon Court’s activism, the placement of the crosses require, according to anti-Christian activists, government to have a secular purpose. Moreover, they must not even symbolically endorse Christianity… (which, intentionally, makes it impossible to survive an Establishment Clause attack).

Governments, when challenged, should firmly reject the archaic secular “Lemon Test”.  Often ignored by the Supreme Court, the test regularly receives “well-earned criticism.”[1]  Perhaps this criticism is the reason why a majority on the Court likely no longer support it. If Lemon’s judicially manufactured secular doctrine existed during the Lincoln Administration, the Emancipation Proclamation would be unconstitutional. Why? Because Lincoln expressly invoked “the gracious favor of Almighty God” in the text of the proclamation.[2] For a more in-depth analysis click here.

Ideas have Consequences

Prohibiting an historical cross or public policy simply because either is informed by ancient sacred tenets, prevents thousands of years of wisdom from informing the public ethic. The idea that all life has dignity because God created humans in His image, ended slavery. It also advanced the rights of women around the world.  Conversely, when government suppresses the free expression of religious ideals, atrocities and corruption abound.

A High-Stakes Battle Worth Fighting 

As the attacks on the Michigan crosses illustrate, we are in the midst of a high-stakes battle over the character of the American nation. Institutional integrity cannot exist without personal virtue.  Good governance and civic institutional integrity rest on the virtue of those holding power within those institutions.  Ideas grounded in the Cross support and nurture this virtue. It should, therefore, always be permitted within the marketplace of ideas. People of faith should not be stripped of their dignity, religious identity, and conscience in order to participate in our constitutional republic. To make sure that does not occur, we must make our voice heard. Stand for the Cross. Please call upon Christophobic activists attacking the cross to stop the bullying.

About the Author

Prof. William Wagner
WFFC Distinguished Chair for Faith & Freedom at SAU
Professor Wagner holds the WFFC Distinguished Chair for Faith & Freedom at Spring Arbor University. He has a special interest in building and preserving environments where Christians may share the Good News of Jesus, free from persecution and oppression.

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