There’s no arguing about the Mt. Soledad cross with a true believer

by on January 22, 2011 · 23 comments

in American Empire, Civil Rights, Culture, History, San Diego, Veterans, War and Peace

by Ed Decker / San Diego CityBeat / Originally published Jan. 19, 2011

“The 20-year legal fight over the cross on Mount Soledad took another turn Tuesday when a federal appeals court ruled the towering landmark [is] unconstitutional….” —San Diego Union-Tribune, Jan. 5

I love this ruling. I do believe that a giant, Latin cross on the city-owned peak of the tallest mountain in the area is an example of government “establishing” a religion. I also believe this issue is complex and nuanced. I believe it’s reasonable, for those who want the cross to stay, to pose such questions as:

1. Is the seemingly endless legal battle worth our time and money?

2. At what point does the historic and the religious become inseparable?

3. What does the word “establishment” mean in the context of the Constitution?

On these questions, reasonable minds can disagree. However, it’s difficult to find reasonable minds in a group that interprets literally the words of a 3,500-year-old testament— written by a bunch of toga-wearing winos—as if it were, you know, a Bible or something.

For true believers, “reason” has nothing to do with it. Their arguments tend toward the ridiculous and reactionary—such as the opinion (articulated in the U-T article cited above) that the Soledad cross “is a secular landmark amid a larger [war] memorial and has no explicit religious meaning.”

For the remainder of this article, go here to San Diego CityBeat.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar RB January 22, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Who are you going to believe? Who are the reasonable minds who can disagree?
Should we believe a bunch of ‘toga-wearing winos’ with writings that have lasted 2000 years or a bunch of ‘pot smoking druggies’ who write in the local press with a product that wont survive the weekend?
The author should check his facts. The cross has nothing to do with the old testament or the beliefs of writers from 3,500 years ago. Also, the author does not seem to know that Cowles not Solidad is the highest peak in the area.


avatar Patty Jones January 22, 2011 at 3:05 pm

RB, there is something you need to check. Your comment is out of line. Poking fun at people long in their graves and accusing people here of criminal behavior are way different. Consider yourself warned.

If you are so disaffected by “the local press” I vigorously invite you to move along.


avatar RB January 23, 2011 at 4:18 am

I guess if you look at the comments by the author as just poking fun at people long in the grave and not as the word of God, you might think my challenge too extreme.
I though I pull my punch. I am more scientific than religious, but am respectful of other’s religious beliefs. But if you consider that the authors in those graves and their writings share a common history, culture, religion, and ethnicity, you might also challenge this antisemitic fun.


avatar Patty Jones January 23, 2011 at 3:00 pm

What of other’s anti or non religious beliefs? If one does not believe in a god do they not warrant your respect? Did you pull your punch by calling other authors “pot smoking druggies” and not something else?


avatar RB January 24, 2011 at 8:02 am

I have no more or no less respect for those who choose not to believe in God.
And should we not hold the author to these same standards of respect for those who do believe? What I choose to believe is that antisemitic humor and intolerance of the religious beliefs of others should be confronted. You don’t have to be religious to fight intolerance and you don’t have to be Jewish to confront antisemitism.


avatar Frank Gormlie January 24, 2011 at 9:27 am

RB – are you saying that Ed Decker’s reference to “toga-wearing winos” is an anti-semitic remark? Otherwise, really don’t know what you’re referring to.


avatar RB January 24, 2011 at 10:10 am

Singling out in a derogatory, disrespectful, and insulting manor one group of authors with a common race, ethnicity, and religion is an unacceptable slur. Togo wearing winos, watermelon eaters, diaper headed camel drivers are all meant to marginalize the opinions and culture of a particular group. It is not funny and it is not a proof in an argument.


avatar Frank Gormlie January 24, 2011 at 10:30 am

You’re really barking up the wrong tree here, dude.


avatar LMAO January 22, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Butthurt Christian. U mad?


avatar Diane5150 January 22, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Good one! Can I quote U on that?


avatar LMFAO January 22, 2011 at 6:53 pm

RB, you whine too much. It’s satire buddy. Get a clue.


avatar Jon January 22, 2011 at 7:54 pm

I think you’re the highest peak in the area.


avatar tlrelf January 22, 2011 at 7:16 pm

I can’t tell you how many times this issue came up while I was teaching at City College. Sometimes, depending upon the class constitution, I would tell them that the “real” reason people were fighting for it, was that it was THE MAKEOUT SPOT! Quite a few people lost not only their virginity there, but conceived their children there as well. . .

While some might think this a petty reason, many landmarks have local significance that may be lost on people who didn’t grow up there, etc.

I’ll never forget the one and only time I lied to the police. . .He shined his flashlight in the car, asked how old I was, and of course I said, “18”. Then he told us to be on our way with a smirk. . .


avatar BillRayDrums January 22, 2011 at 11:04 pm

It’s this type of picayune mindset that will keep San Diego firmly planted in circa 1955. “Live in the past it’s cheaper”.

Sure, ask the taxpayers that are paying for this legal tennis match how cheap 21st century legal fees are.


avatar abw January 23, 2011 at 6:33 am

I’m with the Constitution; it has been treaded on so much in the last 10years. I had nostalgia concerning the cross but I definitely give that up for the lawful foundation of our country. I do, however, have issue with the Eruv of La Jolla. This is maintained on both public and private land. It is equally symbolic and yet continues to exist–many not having a choice regarding living within its confines. Not only does it continue to exist but was erected during some of the civic discussions regarding the cross. Where is the public discussion about this?


avatar Edwin Decker January 25, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Ok, first a response to RB’s comments.

1. The Mount Soledad Cross is most certainly the highest mountain in the area, because “area” is a vague term. Area could be 15 feet or 1500 miles. I chose the word “area” on purpose.

2. I never wrote, or implied, that the cross has anything to do with the bible. I was merely asking the reader to question the critical thinking abilities of a group of people who largely support the cross (bible-thumpers).

3. Anti-Semitic? For reals? Now I’m confused. Were Jews the only peoples who ever wore togas or drank wine? It was a completely innocent, satirical comment and I know you already knew that. You just wanted to cast me as a villain.

4. You are right about one thing, I have little to no respect for other’s religious beliefs, if they believe in a man in the sky who answers our prayers and helps our football teams to win. But do not mistake my disrespect for the belief for a bigotry for the believer. This is exactly my entire point about the Cross, and separation issues in general. All religions are best respected equally, when none are favored by government.

@Billy, you know I love you man, but this isn’t an issue of the past. The cross is up there right now, and it’s right and good that we, as a culture, keep going on asking the question: “Is this an example of religion crossing the line into our supposedly secular government?” I’m less concerned by what the answer is, so long as we keep asking the question.

That’s all I wanted to say. I’m going to sign off now and cuddle with my matzo loving, Manischewitz-drinking Jewbabe of a wife.


avatar Frank Gormlie January 25, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Have you checked recently whether she (or you for that matter) is wearing a toga?


avatar RB January 26, 2011 at 11:38 am

You mistake critical thinking with vilifying your opponents. I guess you did not get the new progressive call for civility. Critical thinking is the ability to differentiate between facts and opinions. Excluding the facts in this article of a public vote on the issue, the judge’s record on the issue, and the Supreme Court’s ruling on this judges previous opinions on this issue is either sloppy or deceptive.

What secular government are you taking about? The one you want us to change to or the one with In God We Trust on its currency?


avatar Edwin Decker January 26, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Oh my God, I feel like I’m arguing with a lobotomized salamander. R.B. There are a hundred million facts about the cross I left out. Why? Because I’ve only got room for 900 words on my column. Because not every fact is relevant or important. Because previous judges rulings aren’t relevant. Because the fact that the public already voted on this issue doesn’t matter. I’ve said it a million times, we are NOT a pure democracy; we do not let the majority rule. The founders knew that majority rule was a disaster waiting to happen so it created a Federal Republic, which put restrictions on majority rule–checks and balances such as, um, I don’t know, like judges and appeals–because the founders knew the majority is all too eager to stick their bats in the asses of the minority.

Oh, and The secular government you asked about is the one created by our founders, who knew all to well the dangers of mixing government and religion. Just because some fairy-tale following nincompoops in the 1860’s disregarded their intent and plastered “in God we trust” all over our currency doesn’t mean that we aren’t, by and large, a secular government. Do you doubt that? Well take a trip to a theocratic country like Iran and talk to me about secularism.

As for Civility: Bah! Satirists don’t do civility, silly. Progressives can call for it all they want, I still reserve the right to call you lobotomized salamander, whether or not you deserve it.


avatar Christopher Moore January 26, 2011 at 10:28 am

There seems to be a meme common to religious extremists (Christian, Muslim, Hindu, whatever) that not being able to use the State to endorse or enforce their religious beliefs somehow constitutes some sort of religious persecution.


avatar Edwin Decker January 26, 2011 at 11:07 am

Ain’t THAT the truth, Christopher.


avatar D.J. Bonin January 26, 2011 at 2:38 pm

My old friend Ed, the fact is that church and state should be seperate, and I`m no bible thumper but I did grow up on Mt Soledad in the early 70`s, Including attending All Hallows School. Climbing the canyons and searching for sharks teeth and quartz crystal, yes those canyons that don`t exist any more because they were filled in by developers, exploring the old WW2 machine gun turrets just below the cross. I for one am proud they made it a war memorial as well. Do we “Crusade” to remove everything religious from this country`s history ? strip it “Clean” just like the developers did those beautiful canyons? Just don`t group us all together with religious extremists. Your friend with fond memories of Mt. Soledad. D.J.


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