Should the crosses at Camp Pendleton come down? [Most commented]
The crosses at Camp Pendleton erected to memorialize fallen Marines are a sensitive issue. On the one hand, the religious symbols are a way to honor people who scarified their lives for our country. On the other, there's the constitutional issue of separation of church and state.
The editorial board weighs in on this issue in Wednesday's pages, putting it bluntly:
The military, like any other government agency, cannot allow people to install large religious symbols wherever they want on public property. Once in place for any length of time, those symbols (and usually that means a cross) tend to be seen as established markers, and proposals to remove them are wrongly viewed as anti-religion and, specifically, anti-Christian.
But the board also offers a compromise:
One course of action that would allow the new crosses to remain would be to invite Marines of other religious beliefs to add their own symbols to the hill. That would ensure the separation of church and state while also being sensitive to the sense of loss suffered by those in the armed services. It would create a place where all people in uniform can remember the sacrifices made by so many.
The majority of readers debating on our discussion board are less flexible. In between commenters calling The Times a communist newspaper and The L.A. Slimes, there are passionate arguments that share a range of perspectives. Some respond directly to the editorial, while others are responding to the debate generally. Here's a selection of comments.
A note from a Marine
You know, I hear a lot of whining and complaining from outsiders who will never see this memorial on the base. We Marines fight to protect American freedoms -- which includes the freedom of religion. You decry these individuals who have gone out on their own time with their own resources to honor the fallen in their own way. Instead of complaining, then step up to establish other memorials, but do not ask others to conform to your views. I and my brother/sister Marines fight to protect the rights of ALL Americans, not just a vocal minority that want it all their own way instead of learning how to live with others and respect the fact that there are many divergent views in this country.
-- an old Marine
The casualties overwhelmingly borne by Christians
The casualties in these latest wars are overwhelmingly being borne by Christians -- active or nominal. The Jewish weekly 'Forward' did a profile of all the Jewish casualties they could find, there were something like 35 -- less than three quarters of one percent of casualties. I suspect similar figures for Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, etc. If there are to be other religions represented, then the proportionality of casualties should be represented also.
Since when do soldiers have the right to set up personal monuments on military bases? It seems to me that it is more of a military discipline issue than a Constitutional issue ...
A mission to destroy our Constitutional government
God please save us from Christians. They will not rest until they destroy our Constitutional government and replace it with a religious-fascist state.
In favor of equal access
I don't recall anything in the Constitution that specifically addresses such things as Miranda rights, bi-racial marriage or segregation in the schools, but every one of these were Constitutional issues that were decide by the Supreme Court.
But personally, I say just allow others to erect memorials using their respective religious symbols and presto; equal access and no Constitutional issue!
*For clarity purposes, spelling errors in the above comments have been corrected.
--Alexandra Le Tellier
Photo: Scott Radetski, 49, a retired Navy chaplain, staff Sgt. Justin Rettenberger, 31, and gunnery Sgt. Josue Magana, 32, both Marines, erect a cross on top of a mountain on Veterans Day that overlooks both the Pacific Ocean and the Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton. Credit: Los Angeles Times