Muslims, the Bladensburg Cross, and the Preservation of Order

(Originally published on Public Discourse)

By Ismail Royer

Socrates: Take a look round, then, and see that none of the uninitiated are listening. Now by the uninitiated I mean: the people who believe in nothing but what they can grasp in their hands, and who will not allow that action or generation or anything invisible can have real existence.

Plato, Theaetetus

A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.

CS Lewis, The Abolition of Man

A forty-foot cross stands alongside a highway on government-owned land in the DC suburb of Bladensburg, Maryland. The cross, built in 1919 as a monument to local residents who died in World War I, was paid for with donations collected by the mothers of the dead soldiers. In 2014, three atheists, offended by the sight of the cross, sued the agency that owns the monument in federal court, arguing that the cross violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. A divided court of appeals agreed, and on Friday, November 2, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

When I drive by the Bladensburg war monument, I see a tribute to a community’s fallen men. Being a Muslim, in the cross I also see the symbol of a misconception about God’s oneness. Unlike our litigious atheist friends, however, I have no difficulty with the presence of the monument on public land. Rather, I am reassured and grateful for this reminder that I live in a land where religion has a public presence. That’s why I helped prepare a brief in the Supreme Court in support of the cross monument, as well as another Supreme Court brief in support of a New Mexico town’s Ten Commandments monument…

Read the rest of this essay on Public Discourse

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