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The Campaign Against the Cross is Not About “Freedom”

Camp Pendleton Cross

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) is perhaps the most deceptively-named organization in the United States.  Its tone is hysterical (it actually calls those who complain about religious influence “spiritual rape victims/tormentees”) and its methods Orwellian.  Which “freedom” is the Military Religious Freedom Foundation advancing?  The freedom not to be offended?  No such liberty exists.  The freedom not to view religious symbols?  Again, no such liberty exists.  The freedom to restrict another man’s freedom?  No such liberty exists.

Let’s be absolutely clear about what happened at Camp Pendleton: As a tribute to fallen brothers, individual Marines and individual family members – acting on their own – erected a cross.  This cross has proven meaningful not just to those Marines and family members who put it up but also to thousands upon thousands of Marines who’ve seen it.  Of course it’s not meaningful to everyone.  Of course it even offends some (including at least one NCO that wrote an incredibly profane and unprofessional letter opposing the Cross), but we simply do not and cannot make decisions about religious liberty on the basis of utterly subjective personal feelings. 

The MRFF wins its victories not in court (where its record is abysmal) but by enlisting the mainstream media in an anti-Christian PR campaign.  I have experienced this first-hand.  Several years ago Good Morning America called me to comment on MRFF’s complaints against the Air Force Academy.  During the taped interview I repeated several times the incontrovertible constitutional truth that no one has a right not to be offended and that offended atheists can actually trample the free speech rights of Christians if they succeed in silencing people of faith. 

The producer literally stopped the interview and demanded that I express sympathy for the offended atheist cadets.  I was astonished.  Was this a news piece where ABC was soliciting honest opinions or an assault on the Air Force Academy?  When the producer pressed me, I responded that the Air Force Academy was supposed to be training warriors.  Should warriors consider themselves victims when they hear words they don’t like?

Needless to say, my comments never made it on air.

The MRFF is a group that virtually defines the term “radical.”  Comparing viewing a religious symbol or hearing a religious message to “rape” isn’t rational dialogue.  It isn’t an argument.  It’s an attempt to demagogue and bully commanders – who are rightfully focused on warfighting and not on the Establishment Clause – into satisfying the loudest, angriest voice.  But we can counter that voice with our own speech, with arguments based on law, reason, and truth.  

The cross is not unconstitutional.  It represents the heart and expression of the individuals who built it, carried it up the mountain, and placed it on the summit.  It does not establish a religion any more than a purely secular monument establishes atheism.  I trust and hope – with your help – the Marines will refuse to be bullied and preserve this symbol of sacrifice and remembrance.

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