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Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2006 | beat everybody else to the story, “Cross Challenged by ACLU.” A less skeptical person than myself might think the subject, not the story about it, fulfilled a prophecy. Prophecies go well with religion and religion goes well with crosses on mountains. Depending upon your point of view, the ACLU has led the godless effort to remove the cross on Mount Soledad, or it is helping a stalwart effort to get an unconstitutional religious symbol removed from public property.

The American Legion and the American Center for Law and Justice (think Pat Robertson) have weighed in as friends of the court claiming it was put there as a war memorial and their rights were thwarted by an activist liberal judge.

I tried to point out they were wrong in every respect. Judge Gordon Thompson is a politically conservative, and churchgoing, fellow nominated by Richard Nixon. Thompson simply did what a judge ought to do. He looked at the law and upheld it, something I think ought to be done more often.

Brian Bilbray recently told how he was filled with pride when his father pointed out the cross and told him it was a memorial to those who died to protect our freedoms. As usual, Brian sounded impressive while spinning political nonsense.

The cross on Mount Soledad was not put up there as a war memorial. It was dedicated on Easter Sunday, not Memorial Day, and it was specifically dedicated to “our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Easter sunrise services have been held there practically every year.

I know a lot of non-Christian veterans who do not believe that cross can possibly represent them. One of them goes to bed with my wife every night.

And to listen to many politicians, our talk show hosts, the American Legion, and even some newspaper editorials, the ACLU was behind all this.

No they weren’t. The case was filed, pled and won without legal representation by Phil Paulson and Howard Kreisner. The ACLU only came in on the first appeal. But, lo and behold, they’re now in it with both feet. Last week they filed their own law suit on behalf of three local individuals plus the Washington based Jewish War Veterans.

I say “Welcome aboard folks. It’s about time. It’s been a lonely fight for Phil Paulson and his lawyer, Jim McElroy.” Those two haven’t been just fighting the city. They have been fighting the Thomas More Law Center, of Detroit.

An interesting group, here’s a blurb on their web site:

Our purpose is to be the sword and shield for people of faith, providing legal representation without charge to defend and protect Christians and their religious beliefs in the public square.

Their site didn’t mention the constitution or even the law except to claim so many decisions have been inordinately influenced by legal advocacy groups such as the ACLU, which seeks to systematically subvert the religious and moral foundations of our nation.

Again I say welcome aboard ACLU. We need someone just to oppose such sophistry.

But that ain’t all folks. Another outfit has weighed in. The Center for Inquiry (CFI) in Buffalo is also filing a friend of the court brief. Theirs is in the case before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The filing is on behalf of the Council for Secular Humanism and CFI itself. They, too, have an ax to grind. Here are a couple items from the Secular Humanist statement of principles:

We are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems. We are committed to the separation of church and state.

My belief system made the choice of conflicting philosophies such as these an easy one. I am a proud secular humanist and have long been a member of CFI. In fact, I hold the title of advisor to them although they don’t always heed my advice.

Still, I believe so much that we are responsible for our own actions, that I wonder that I might sound like a conservative.

I don’t know where the new, revamped Supreme Court will come down on this, if it gets to that. Our country started out as a secular nation with the notion of keeping religion out of politics, but that is now under siege. If that wall of separation is further breached, we’ll be even worse off than we are now, and that’s plenty bad.

No matter which way it ends up, I hope above all for one thing. It will draw enough attention so when some talking head on TV or some pious politician on the campaign trail says, “There are no atheists in foxholes,” that person will be inundated with e-mails saying “Oh yeah, how about Phil Paulson?”

Then Phil and all of us dreaded atheists will gain a measure of respect.

Keith Taylor is program chair for the San Diego Association for Rational Inquiry. He can be reached at Or, send a letter to the editor.

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