Federal court rules World War I memorial cross must be torn down

Back in 1925, the American Legion erected a memorial in Bladensburg, Md., to honor the memory of 49 men who perished during World War I.

The 40-foot tall memorial became known as the "Peace Cross." 

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In 2014, the American Humanist Association -- a group that believes in "being good without a god" -- filed a lawsuit alleging the cross-shaped memorial is unconstitutional and demanding it be demolished, altered, or removed. 

They alleged the cross carries "an inherently religious message and creates the unmistakable appearance of honoring only Christian servicemen."

"Today's decision sets dangerous precedent by completely ignoring history, and it threatens removal and destruction of veterans memorials across America."

On Wednesday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and ruled the historic memorial must be torn down -- all because the Bladensburg Memorial is in the shape of a cross. 

The Fourth Circuit said the memorial excessively entangles the government in religion because the cross is the “core symbol of Christianity” and “breaches” the wall separating church and state.

Writing separately, Chief Judge Gregory wrote, “This Memorial stands in witness to the VALOR, ENDURANCE, COURAGE, and DEVOTION of the forty-nine residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland ‘who lost their lives in the Great War for the liberty of the world.’  I cannot agree that a monument so conceived and dedicated and that bears such witness violates the letter or spirit of the very Constitution these heroes died to defend.”

The American Legion could appeal directly to the Supreme Court.

"Today's decision sets dangerous precedent by completely ignoring history, and it threatens removal and destruction of veterans memorials across America," First Liberty Institute attorney Hiram Sasser said. 

First Liberty Institute and the Jones Day law firm are representing the American Legion in their fight.

“This memorial has stood in honor of local veterans for almost 100 years and is lawful under the First Amendment,” Jones Day attorney Michael Carvin said. “To remove it would be a tremendous dishonor to the local men who gave their lives during The Great War.”

I warned Americans in my new book, “The Deplorables’ Guide to Making America Great Again,” that the war against religious liberty and traditional American values is far from over. 

A militant group of atheists, agnostics and free-thinkers want to eradicate Christianity in the public marketplace. The only way to stop this evil scourge is for people of faith to stand together and fight back in the courts.

Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary. His latest book is “The Deplorables’ Guide to Making America Great Again.” Follow him on Twitter @ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.