This Memorial Day, the Liberty Institute, a non-profit organization which claims to be dedicated to defending and restoring "religious liberty across America," released a music video performed by Jon Christopher Davis entitled "Don't Tear Me Down," which seeks to preserve the Mount Soledad Memorial Cross.
The moving production, which features images of veterans, was meant to serve as a tribute to fallen soldiers and to preserve the religious symbols included in the veterans' memorial.
"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," Liberty Institute President Kelly Shackelford said in a statement published in the Christian Post.
"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."
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled the cross unconstitutional in 2011 and the Liberty Institute appealed in 2012.
The Mount Soledad memorial, first built in 1913, is a landmark in San Diego, California. It became a Korean War memorial in the late 1980s after being challenged in court for its display of religious symbols on government property.
Writing for the Washington Post, Brad Hirschfield argues that all concerned -- from Liberty Institute to FFRF to ACLU -- might all be on the wrong track:
Unfortunately, neither side seems terribly concerned about the real impact of their actions on those who don’t share their beliefs. For the ACLU and FFRF, that has meant a headlong march to strip religious symbols out of locations where their presence brings great comfort and meaning to the families and friends of thousands of fallen heroes. No, not to all, but to many and probably to most.
Don’t get me wrong, the principle of separation of church and state for which the ACLU fights, and the right of people to be free from religious coercion of any kind, are not simply good ideas that also happen to appear in our Constitution. They are bedrock principles without which America would not be America and its citizens would not enjoy the life we do. They are principles which must be defended as much as any border which defines our sense of who we are as a nation. But the question is how that defense is mounted.
He goes on to assert that "securing the rights of some by stripping away those of others is a dicey process, and one for which both the ACLU and FFRF advocate all too easily."
"They litigate to get rid of things which could often be accommodated, if the human needs and sensitivities were genuinely respected. Unfortunately, they seem to prefer a rather sanctimonious winner-take-all approach," he adds.
At the same time, Hirschfield wonders if Memorial Day is the best time to wage such religious battles, and faults Liberty Institute for suggesting that those with differing views aren't equally as concerned about honoring those fallen:
Just as unfortunately, is that with the release of their new music video especially, the Liberty Institute falls into the same trap as their opponents. In fact, whether intentional or not, the lyrics are every bit as arrogant as the actions opposed by the Liberty Institute, and maybe even more offensive.
With the constantly repeated words “I was there” sung as a variety of famous battles are mentioned, the song suggests that those opposed to religious symbolism are somehow less concerned about these battles and how to properly honor those who fell in them. That’s just wrong. Not to mention the threat implicit in suggesting that the ACLU and FFRF should, in the words of the song, “just walk away in the name of peace.” Again, it’s just wrong.
Below is the music video, "Don't Tear Me Down." Do you think the timing and message fitting?