Rep. Randy Forbes Defends Memorial Crosses at Camp Pendleton
The Congressional Prayer Caucus
April 17, 2012
Rep. Randy Forbes, Founder and Co-Chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, was featured on the Mike Huckabee radio show today discussing the controversy surrounding two memorial crosses at Camp Pendleton in California. The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAFF) is threatening to file a lawsuit if the crosses are not removed from the military base, where they sit atop a hill as a memorial to fallen service members. The group asserts that the presence of the crosses on federal land is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion, regardless of the fact that crosses are widely recognized as a symbol honoring the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform. Reports indicate that “the commandant of the Marines is expected to rule on the cross controversy any day.”
According to Rep. Forbes, “If they’re successful in getting these crosses taken down at Camp Pendleton, there’s absolutely no reason that the crosses in Arlington Cemetery would be allowed to stay.” He explained that these groups wish to purge the public square of such patriotic symbols, regardless of their context.
A group of Marines carried a cross to the top of a hillside at the military base, placing it as a memorial to their fallen comrades. The cross replaced a similar memorial that had burned in a wild fire a few years before. Two crosses now reside at the spot, and as the wife of one fallen Marine explained, “It’s not a religious spot at all, it’s a place for the Marines to grieve and to grow to let go of their burdens of what they had in their soul, so they can go back down that hill and back into battle and put their own lives on the line.”
The situation at Camp Pendleton highlights the confusion surrounding Establishment Clause jurisprudence, which Justice Thomas recently said was “in shambles.” Members of the Prayer Caucus will continue working to ensure that memorials to our nation’s veterans are not dismantled and stripped of symbols that honor their service and their sacrifice. Listen to Rep. Forbes’ interview here.