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Old 11-20-2007, 10:31 AM   #1
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Cross Controversy

Does anyone here have a problem with those roadside crosses, does anyone think they shouldn't be allowed on public property?

newsweek.com

Utah’s Cross Controversy

The Utah Highway Patrol Association is faced with a lawsuit over placing by the side of the road crosses honoring state troopers killed in the line of duty.
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Updated: 3:11 PM ET Nov 17, 2007

On a highway in southern Utah, midway between Tropic and Cedar City, a mammoth cross marks the place where, 29 years ago this month, state trooper Lynn Pierson was killed by a car thief. Pierson's son Clint, a 36-year-old county deputy, sees the stark white memorial every time he takes his kids to the local Wal-Mart. "It's a huge source of pride," he says. "As a family, it helped us heal."

There are 14 such crosses, all of them 12 feet tall, scattered around the state, each bearing the name of a dead trooper and the Utah Highway Patrol insignia. They were erected by the privately funded Utah Highway Patrol Association beginning in 1998, and whether they continue to stand is in the hands of a federal judge in Salt Lake City, who must decide if the crosses are symbols of remembrance or religion. U.S. District Judge David Sam heard arguments earlier this week on both sides of the constitutional debate and has promised to rule soon.

The controversy started in December 2005, when American Atheists Inc. filed suit to have the markers removed, arguing that the cross is a universal symbol of Christianity and, when placed on public property, illegal. The lawsuit sparked outrage from the families of fallen officers, other police officers and legislators. Even some atheists went out of their way to dissociate themselves from the Texas-based group.

The crosses honor troopers who have died since 1931. Ten of the monuments are on public land, which required special permission from the state. "It was never our intent to do anything religious," says Lt. Lee Perry, who helped spearhead the project. "It was strictly to honor their memory."

Assistant attorney general Thom Roberts made the same argument in court. The cross, like Christmas and "Closed on Sunday," is a religious expression that evolved into a secular symbol, he said. To emphasize his point, Roberts held up pictures of telephone poles and showed a clip from Ben Casey, the 1960s TV medical drama. In it, Dr. David Zorba uses the cross as a generic symbol for death.

Roberts also argued that, since 11 of the 14 honored troopers were Mormons, members of a church that does not use the cross as a symbol of its beliefs, the monuments could hardly be considered a religious expression. "This is not about putting God back in the public space," Roberts says. "This is a memorial to officers who died in the line of duty."

Brian Barnard, a Salt Lake City attorney who represents the atheists, counters that the case hinges not on what a Mormon thinks but on how a reasonable observer would interpret a giant cross on the side of the highway. And when people see a giant white cross, he says, they don't just think of death, they think of the death of Jesus Christ. "It's hard to conceive of another symbol that is so instantly meaningful," Barnard says. "And here's the state of Utah putting its stamp of approval on it."

Besides, he notes, just because the LDS Church does not use the Star of David doesn't change the fact that it is a religious symbol exclusive to one faith. At one point in Tuesday's hearing, an attorney for the UHPA underscored Barnard's point, noting that if a Jewish trooper were killed, his family would have the option of erecting a giant Star of David in place of a cross.

Robert Kirby, the former police officer who came up with the idea for the memorials, says the cross was intended to be an easily recognizable symbol of the sacred, not a religious statement. Kirby, now a columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune, says that he and Perry debated a lot of different symbols—signs, giant rocks, tombstones—before settling on the cross. "We wanted something instantly recognizable at 75 miles per hour, something that would say, 'This is hallowed ground'," says Kirby. "I have a lot of respect for the atheists. I believe in separation of church and state. But this is a little bit picky, even for them."
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Old 11-20-2007, 11:13 AM   #2
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This is terrible! It's a tribute to the person and the family has a right to memorialize him any way they see fit. Just because it's with a cross doesn't have a thing to do with forcing any religion on anyone else. What happened to freedom of religion?

I personally know someone who died and their family has put out roadside crosses with flowers, too. It would be devastating to be told they couldn't do it. (though some people think all roadside memorials are 'distracting to drivers' and should be taken down )
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Old 11-20-2007, 11:17 AM   #3
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12 feet tall, is a little much, this isn't like the family making a roadside vidual. This is the state putting up symbols that don't exactly line up with the person's faith.

I find the whole thing odd...
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Old 11-20-2007, 11:19 AM   #4
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That's utterly hilarious and as stupid as religious people demanding everything has to be according to their wishes.
The cross is also a well-known symbol for death and generally seen as such when standing by the road. If the family of one killed, or that person himself when still alive, doesn't want a cross to be used fine, but other people should just shut up, honestly.
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Old 11-20-2007, 11:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Butterscotch
This is terrible! It's a tribute to the person and the family has a right to memorialize him any way they see fit. Just because it's with a cross doesn't have a thing to do with forcing any religion on anyone else. What happened to freedom of religion?

I personally know someone who died and their family has put out roadside crosses with flowers, too. It would be devastating to be told they couldn't do it. (though some people think all roadside memorials are 'distracting to drivers' and should be taken down )
Um, it's not the family memorializing them, you did read the article?
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Old 11-20-2007, 01:35 PM   #6
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People have way too much time and money on their hands if they spend their time protesting and fighting a legal battle against stuff like this.

I agree - 12 feet is too huge and state money should not be spent on this.

But my god, get over it. ANY radical belief that's taken to an extreme without tolerance for other beliefs is dangerous - whether it's Christian or Pagan or Athiest or Mormon. Everything in moderation.
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Old 11-20-2007, 02:40 PM   #7
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Yeah most of the ones you see are small ones put up and maintained by the family. 12 feet is big, but if it were a 12 foot pole would anyone care? I still don't see a cross as endorsing a religion or forcing a religion on anyone else. I'd feel the same regardless of what religion it represents. Now, the cost of it and who's paying is another story.
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Old 11-20-2007, 02:44 PM   #8
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Technically, they should not be allowed.

But American Athiests is fighting a battle not worth fighting.

The only way this should really matter is if the family of the person being honored does not want it.
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Old 11-20-2007, 04:54 PM   #9
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Oh, for cripes' sake...

I agree, I highly doubt there's any ulterior motive here to try and convert people or something. It's a memorial. Nothing more, nothing less. It's just something on the side of the road, just keep driving and ignore it (though I agree that perhaps the size might be a bit of an issue). A cross is just like any other symbol-it only means something if people let it mean something. Otherwise, it's just a t-shaped thing.

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Old 11-20-2007, 10:56 PM   #10
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Playing devil's advocate here: Yeah, it's just a T shaped thing but is a swastika just an x shaped thing? I guess if you feel oppressed by what or who the symbol stands for it's a different story.

Please don't get me wrong or "slam" me, I'm not comparing Christians to Nazis, it was just the first 'symbol' that popped into my head.
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Old 11-20-2007, 11:34 PM   #11
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Yeah, I understand that, and I think technically the memorial should not be a religious symbol, but I think the Athiests group is being ridiculous here.

There are things that athiests are getting the short end of the stick on in America .... and this really isn't one of them.
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Old 11-21-2007, 06:52 AM   #12
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zuropa, your comparison isn't working.
The swastika, nowadays, only has this one symbolic meaning, and there's no way around it. Whenever you use that symbol it's clear to everyone what it stands for, and you couldn't get around it by saying "I'm just expressing my endorsement of the old *include culture of your wish* here."

With the cross it's different, as it is not only seen as a symbol of Christianity, but also of death, even for atheists.

As I said, if the family was uncomfortable with it, or a state trooper made the wish to not use a cross should he die on duty, that would be understandable. But any person saying he feels oppressed by seeing this symbol... WTF?
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Old 11-21-2007, 06:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Vincent Vega
But any person saying he feels oppressed by seeing this symbol... WTF?
For me, nothing brings the thought of war like a peace symbol.
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Old 11-21-2007, 07:09 PM   #14
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Old 11-21-2007, 07:14 PM   #15
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You probably can tell my reaction.
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