FoxNews reports that an atheist group, the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, has filed complaints at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., saying a memorial with two 13-foot crosses violates the principle of separation of church and state.
It’s a brazen move on the part of the organization, considering the crosses were “Originally erected back in 2003 by seven Marines grieving over lives lost in the war on terror.”
Something else this group must have failed to remember: religious expression and faith is crucial to many aspects of military life. The services employ chaplains, with taxpayer dollars, solely to provide troops with spiritual nourishment and solace. I have never yet been to a military memorial service that did not open with a prayer in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Religion isn’t forced on service members, but its presence is appreciated. The statement is overused, but the point is well-made: there are no atheists in foxholes.
In this case, MAAF’s stance may boil down to simple intolerance, however. A defender of the crosses said the display is not intended to be a religious expression, just a traditional memorial.
“It’s a symbol of sacrifice regardless of what you think, pray, like or don’t like,” Marine widow Karen Mendoza told Fox.
The Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Amos, is expected to deliver a ruling on the situation soon, according to reports. We’ll be following that.