WASHINGTON (WJZ) — A World War I memorial in the shape of a 40-foot-tall cross in Maryland can continue to stay on public land, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The peace cross sits in the median of a busy intersection in Bladensburg, Maryland, right outside of Washington D.C.
The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 Thursday in favor of keeping the cross in place, saying it doesn’t violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause which prohibits the government from favoring one religion over another.
“When I was 13, my father took me to the peace cross and said, ‘Son, I want you to look at this, this is what people in this state and country think of their service and sacrifice,'” Michael Moore, of the American Legion, said.
In 1985, the cross was dedicated to veterans of all wars, but some say a Christian cross simply can’t do that.
Sarah Henry is with the American Humanist Association- one of the groups challenging the cross’ presence on public property.
They argue the peace cross should be moved to private property or modified into a non-religious monument.
“It’s frustrating to see the Supreme Court approve Christian majority favoritism at the expense of veterans of all faiths, and none who do not feel appropriately honored by a sectarian religious symbol,” Henry said.
The Supreme Court ruled to keep the peace cross in place, saying quote, “The cross does not offend The Constitution.”
Defenders of the cross include the American Legion, which has raised money to build the monument.
“It makes veterans memorials with references to religious symbols on it, Constitutional and people who object have to prove that they’re not Constitutional,” Moore said.
Governor Larry Hogan called the ruling, “a great victory.” He released a statement saying, in part, “Today’s ruling ensures that this memorial – a dignified tribute to those who came before us and made the ultimate sacrifice – will stand tall and proud for the ages.”
The two Supreme Court Justices who disagreed said, “The principal symbol of Christianity around the world should not loom over public thoroughfares.”