Park Service Removes Replica Cross

I don’t feel that the park service official had the right to order the replica to be removed. The Supreme Court said that the cross could remain standing until a decision was made about the legality of Congress transferring the land to private hands. I think that removing the replica cross is matter of language semantics that were popular with the in the Clinton Administration. (Probably everyone remembers when Clinton was on national t.v. and said, “It all depends on what “is” is.”) In this case they are implying that it depends on what “the cross” means.

Actually, it was the US Department of Justice which ordered the replica removed.

The Park Service has been caught in the middle. The replica was put up, without permission, during the night, by persons unknown.

{Mojave National Preserve spokeswoman Linda} Slater said the government remained under court order not to display a cross on the site. And since the replica isn’t the original disputed cross, it had to come down.

“Technically, it’s illegal,” she said. “The park service has regulations about people putting up memorials. You can’t just go to a park and put a memorial to a family member.”

Slater said she understood the emotions churned up by the dispute over the original cross. But she urged partisans not to take illegal action.

“It’s really unhelpful for people to be putting up crosses and taking crosses down,” she said. “It’s up to the courts. … This really confuses the issue.”

I agree that the DOJ order seems odd. My sense is that the Supreme Court was temporarily allowing the symbol of the cross (and not just the iron pipes comprising the fomer cross) to remain, pending the lower court’s decision.

But the Park Service seems caught in the middle between the courts, the DOJ, and partisans on both sides taking peremptory action.

Well obviously it does matter what “the cross” means. If it means what you say it means, then they were wrong to take it down.

However, I think the government’s position is a bit more defensible than yours. What happens if someone returns the original cross to the site - now there are two crosses. Would the government be right to remove the cross that’s there now, rather than the original? The basis for that would be that the court meant the original when it wrote “the cross.”

There are also hypothetical possibilities which could illuminate the present issue. What if the construction of the original cross had subtle meaning, even if it wasn’t addressed in the court decision? Perhaps plumbers will rightly feel slighted by a non-pipe replacement. What if someone put up a celtic cross, and nearby tribes felt slighted by the use of a foreign ethnic symbol? What if someone put up a cross with a rainbow across the top? Or a cross made of human bones. The exact construction of a replacement cross may have to be dealt with eventually, but I think it’s understandable that the government didn’t want in a knee-jerk way to just give its blessing to whatever popped up overnight.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit