'Peace Cross' dispute turns on misreading of Constitution [Letter]

The atheists and humanists are at it again. Now, they want a federal judge to order the dismantling of the "Peace Cross," a memorial to Prince George's County's World War I war dead which has stood on public land since 1925 ("Md. cross in church-state fight," May 26). The plaintiffs assert "that displaying the structure on public land 'amounts to the endorsement and advancement of religion (and specifically, an endorsement of and affiliation with Christianity),' in violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution."

In fact, the First Amendment does not bar government "endorsement" of religion; rather, it provides, in pertinent part, that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion[.]" In other words, the First Amendment prohibits the federal government from establishing a national religion (as Henry VIII did).

The concept that the First Amendment prohibits government "endorsement" of religion was the brain-child of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (Lynch v. Donnelly, 1984). That decision represents just another example of a Supreme Court majority substituting its will for the actual wording of the Constitution.

David Holstein, Parkville

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