Recently, at the beginning of the month, although I have just now heard of it from an opinion piece in the New York Times, the Supreme Court received a case regarding impermissible establishment of religion in the U.S. Although society is now “secular” in theory, this is not always upheld in practice. The Court ruled in favor last year of a baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same sex couple, and upheld President Donald Trump’s executive order on banning immigration from Muslim countries. This current case involves a cross in Maryland built to honor WW1 victims, however, this cross was built with public funds and on public property.
The Trump administration claimed the Christian cross, on which Jesus died for humanity’s sins and was resurrected, was “secular.” However, even liberal justice Stephen Breyer wondered if because this was built when the nation was not as religiously diverse, it should be allowed to remain, since it did most likely connect with the majority of the fallen soldiers’ faiths.
As the article points out, it is hard to imagine a Wiccan or atheist memorial with public funds being defended in the same way by the Court. However, with religious context, it doesn’t seem fair to say that both are equally inappropriate within a World War One memorial. A Wiccan memorial in Salem would probably be more supported. However, even with this justification, the Supreme Court is beginning to grow extremely worrying to me with its inability to separate church from state. The Muslim death row prisoner not having the same rights as a Christian death row prisoner comes to mind as a prominent example of this. The linking of church and state is not a reflection of the religiously tolerant and pluralistic views of society today.