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Thursday, July 21, 2005 | Proposition A made it to the ballot primarily because of the efforts of an ultra-conservative Christian law group headquartered in Michigan. While these out-of-towners want us all to adopt their rather unique brand of Christianity, they are going to stick us, the taxpayers, with the bill when this scheme fails, as it obviously will.

The Michigan law center got “Duke” Cunningham to support a bill in Congress to allow the federal government to accept the Mount Soledad cross if the city offered it to them. Of course, transferring the cross to the federal government will do nothing to change its unconstitutional presence on public property. But by transferring the cross to the federal government, the city will guarantee the taxpayers that it will spend millions more in legal expenses in a case it can’t win. Cunningham admitted to reporters that he didn’t bother to look at the law before he facilitated this ridiculous scheme. Meanwhile, our current city attorney has correctly advised the City Council that if the cross is transferred to the federal government, the city will be engaged in an illegal act and that the city can’t possibly win the Mount Soledad case in court. He has further advised them that the cross is unconstitutional on either city or federal land.

That settlement was blocked by the Michigan law group and others that circulated a petition that stated “you can save the cross by signing this petition.” That statement is every bit as false as suggesting that Proposition A will save the cross. These are, purely and simply, misrepresentations. The establishment clause of the constitution and our great tradition of religious freedom are rights granted to us under the Constitution and as such are protected by the courts. They are not subject to the current political whims of folks like Duke Cunningham, nor can they be ripped from us by special interest legal centers that think Christianity should be the official state-sponsored religion.

When Rosa Parks courageously decided to sit on the front of the bus in Montgomery in 1954, the court protected her constitutional right to do so. If the voters of Montgomery had been asked to decide the issue, Rosa might still be on the back of the bus.

Respect our constitution and our heritage of religious freedom. Respect veterans of all faiths who fought and died for our freedoms. Get the government out of the business of religion. Stop spending valuable tax dollars on litigation the city can’t possibly win. Vote “No” on Proposition A.

James McElroy, a San Diego attorney, represents atheist Philip Paulson, who has challenged the presence of the cross on public land since 1989.

Read the other side of this issue, “San Diegans Support Proposition A,” by Philip Thalheimer.

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