Will the Supreme Court Allow Religious Imagery On Veterans Memorials?

By the Liberty Institute, Special for US Daily Review.

On Memorial Day – as Liberty Institute awaits a response from the U.S. Supreme Court over their appeal to save the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross from being torn down by atheist groups—the group will unveil a new music video, titled “Don’t Tear Me Down.” Beginning Monday, May 28, tune-in at www.DontTearMeDown.com.

“Don’t Tear Me Down” embodies the spirit of the movement to save America’s veterans memorials that contain religious imagery from being torn down by the ACLU and other atheist groups.

“The ACLU is so driven to purge religious displays from the public square that they are continuing their attack against the unlikeliest of victims – the veterans and the memorials they built to honor their own,” said Kelly Shackelford, Liberty Institute President and CEO.  “We believe, if The Supreme Court grants our appeal and agrees to hear the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross case, they will rule once and for all that these veterans memorials should be exempt from the ongoing culture war over religious imagery in public displays.”

Liberty Institute, representing the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association, filed an appeal to the Supreme Court in February.  In March, the U.S. Solicitor General’s office joined in the appeal to protect the 56-year old memorial, giving the case a significant boost.  According to a Georgetown Law Journal study, there is now a 70 percent chance the High Court will hear the case.  A decision is expected in June.

In addition to the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross, Liberty Institute also represented the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial at the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of 4 million veterans through the VFW, The American Legion and Military of the Purple Heart, as well as the Big Mountain Jesus Statue in Montana on behalf of the local Knights of Columbus who oversees the WWII monument.

Dolly Parton and Billy Ray Cyrus’ lyricist Jon Christopher Davis co-wrote, performed and played the song on acoustic guitar. Davis’ co-writer on “Don’t Tear Me Down” is his manager John “Sparky” Pearson.

“Our fathers, who are no longer with us, served in the U.S. Air Force and Navy. They would be outraged at the idea of tearing down a veterans memorial just because it has a religious symbol,” said Davis. “We were taught and we believe in religious freedom – not freedom from religion. To us, this is a much bigger issue than erasing a religious symbol. This is about NOT tearing down America.”

Evoking images of fallen soldiers and endangered national landmarks across the country, the three-minute music video reveals the heart’s cry of millions of U.S. veterans as it crescendos into the refrain:

“Don’t tear me down, Just walk away
Our Founding Fathers, What would they say?
Don’t tear me down, These words I pray
I’m just keeping watch, Over the fallen brave”

The “Don’t Tear Me Down” music video was filmed by award-winning producer Ry Cox (Third Day and Sixth Avenue North) on location under the shadow of the controversial Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross in San Diego, CA, and at the Houston National Cemetery and San Jacinto Monument in Houston, TX.

Background on Battles To Tear Down U.S. Veterans Memorials:

  • The Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross: Since 1989, the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross has been the center of a legal battle. In 2005, 76 percent of San Diegans voted in favor of giving the memorial to the federal government in an effort to preserve it as a national landmark honoring veterans.  Liberty Institute represents the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association, a veterans group that maintains the monument. Liberty Institute filed an appeal on their behalf with the U.S. Supreme Court in February after the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the memorial cross unconstitutional.
  • Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial Cross: In Salazar v. Buono, 130 S. Ct. 1803, the ACLU originally won a ruling that declared the Mojave Desert Veteran’s Memorial Cross to be an unconstitutional display of religious imagery. In 2010, Liberty Institute filed an appeal and represented over four million veterans from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American Legion, and other military organizations. We won a major victory when the Supreme Court overturned the original decision and voted in favor of the cross and veterans memorial, citing our amicus brief on behalf of veterans twelve separate times in the decision.
  • Jesus Statue, WWII Memorial: In 2011, The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a Wisconsin-based organization, targeted the WWII Veterans Memorial, objecting to the presence of any religious symbol on public property. Last August, the U.S. Forest Service initially revoked the Knights of Columbus’ long-time permit to maintain the statue on federal lands. Following uproar over that decision, the U.S. Forest Service asked for public comment, which closed on December 8. At that time, Liberty Institute, on behalf of the Knights of Columbus who oversees the memorial, submitted a letter brief to the U.S. Forest Service defending the constitutionality of this statue. Following an outpouring of public support to keep the landmark, the U.S. Forest Service granted renewal of the half-century-old permit to maintain the statue on the 25-by-25 parcel, located on federal lands.

Liberty Institute is a non-profit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious freedoms across America. For additional information, visit www.DontTearMeDown.com.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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