Monday, March 23, 2009

Giant Roadside Crosses

In Utah the American Atheists organization objects to having roadside crosses honoring state troopers killed in the line of duty. They sued the state claiming establishment of religion. When I first saw the story, I was prepared to write about how these idiot atheists were making the rest of us look bad. But then I looked into it a bit further.

It turns out that the crosses are twelve feet high and have the symbol of the Utah highway patrol. That's what you see when you drive down the highway: giant crosses with the state police logo. Here's a picture of one of them. If they had any memorials with different symbols, say a twelve-foot high star of David for a slain Jewish officer, I don't think there would be a problem. But putting up nothing but a bunch of giant crosses with the police logo does seem to be a bit much. It's understandable how someone could reasonably argue that the crosses imply that the Utah highway patrol is a Christian organization. But since they have been constructed by a private organization rather than by the police force itself, I don't think American Atheists have a case. Rather than asking for the crosses to be taken down, they should modify their position and simply ask that the highway patrol logo be removed.

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