Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, issued the following statement in response to today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing the Bladensburg Cross to remain standing on public land in Maryland:
“The Supreme Court’s misguided decision to allow government to play favorites and prominently display religious symbols as public war memorials dishonors our country’s veterans and the fundamental principle of religious freedom they fought and died for. The towering Bladensburg Cross is an inherently Christian symbol that excludes thousands of non-Christian veterans and ignores the tremendous sacrifices they made.
“Just because something is a tradition doesn’t make it right. In 2019, the court ought to know better than to permit the government to continue causing harm and violating our constitutional principles just because we’ve always done it that way.
“The Supreme Court’s decision elevates an outdated custom above the religious freedom that our Constitution guarantees to all Americans. We urge Maryland and all government officials to do better by their residents by ensuring that public land is inclusive for all, not just for some.”
Americans United led a group of 15 religious and civil-rights organizations in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, American Legion v. American Humanist Association. The organizations had urged the Supreme Court to affirm that the Bladensburg Cross is an unconstitutional religious symbol on public property.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.